Articles

    A PARTNERSHIP FOR SAFER SCHOOLS

    A PARTNERSHIP FOR SAFER SCHOOLS
    BY SEAN BURKE  |  FBINA # 239

    FBI National Academy Associates and the School Safety Advocacy Council Partner to Train Law Enforcement and School Administrators Nationwide

    As president of the School Safety Advocacy Council I have been lucky enough to work with school districts, law enforcement agencies, and communities nationwide to keep schools safe and further the efforts of law enforcement in schools. The unfortunate part of visiting these districts and communities is most of the time there is disconnect between the school district and the local law enforcement agency in their active shooter and emergency response planning and preparation. Even if the law enforcement agency has an SRO program, we usually find a lack of communication at the executive level.

    In a recent school safety assessment of a district with a large SRO program we found that the law enforcement agency, the fire services, and the school district all had emergency plans that contradicted each other. When representatives of the three organizations were questioned about the differences, all claimed that their plan would take prescient in any crisis. As we found, the organizations had never gotten together to discuss the emergency planning for the district, much less trained or drilled together. If this was an assessment finding ten or fifteen years ago no one reading this would be surprised but this was a finding that followed one of the deadliest school years in our nation’s history. What makes this even scarier is that this is not an isolated case of a single community not working together. As I speak, instruct, and perform assessments nationwide this similar circumstance is found in districts and communities of all sizes and locations.

    At the School Safety Advocacy Council, we stress the need to include all the stakeholders in emergency management training and planning for schools and communities. Having worked with communities and districts across the national for over twenty-five years, I have seen this philosophy, when instituted properly, work extremely well when needed to be put into action during an actual crisis. When a school district and its community first responders, develops a cooperative crisis plan based on the Incident Command System, trains together, then practices that plan, from tabletop exercises to full practical drills, it will always result in not only a better school, but community wide response. Following this process of preparation not only better prepares the school district but also improves the first responder’s actions to mitigate a crisis within the community. The process I described requires the understanding and direction from the leadership of the community, school district, and first responder organizations. It requires the understanding of the leadership that this process will lead to better preparation and response community wide because it may require certain stake holders to relinquish control or perform non-traditional roles during a crisis.

    As I stated prior, effective crisis planning requires a partnership between school districts and law enforcement as well as other community first responders. Luckily, not only the do we believe that but also the leadership of the FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA) believes that. Based on prior but separate efforts on a national level to improve safety and policing in our communities, both organizations had a strong mutual respect for each other’s efforts. I also had direct knowledge of how great an organization the FBINAA was from being a member for over ten years and proud graduate of the National Academy, session #239.

    As a result of our mutual respect and shared goal of keeping our nation’s schools and children safe, the FBINAA and the School Safety Advocacy Council partnered to develop an active school shooting leadership training program entitled School Shooting Prevention Leadership Forum. This cooperatively designed course is an effort to bring decision makers and practitioners from not only law enforcement and education together in one classroom, but all the community stakeholders. This training emphasizes real life experiences and proven practices to prepare schools and communities for an active shooter event or other crisis. Using the extensive resources and experience from both organizations, the training presents the timeliest and most effective information available in the nation. During the last school year two programs were held, one in Columbia, South Carolina and one in Kansas City, Kansas. The programs quickly sold out and produced participant evaluations that were the highest either organization had ever seen. Classes were attended in both locations by participants from all levels of community stakeholders, education, law enforcement, fire services and elected leadership. For the upcoming school year, we are in the process of finalizing ten more courses in locations to be held in cities across the nation. Dates and locations will be announced soon so please check either organizations website for details.

    With such a great success in the partnership active school shooter training, the FBINAA and School Safety Advocacy Council will cooperatively host the National School Safety Leadership Academy this November 7-8, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In the past, this conference has brought leadership from law enforcement and education together for a dynamic two days of presentations, discussion, and problem solving. Now with these two great organizations partnering in the event, it is guaranteed to not only be the largest gathering of leaders but also the most comprehensive. More information on this must attend event and attendee registration will be available soon.


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


    SEAN BURKE
    FBINA #239


    Sean Burke served as the first Director of Public Safety for the Lawrence Public School’s Police/Safety Department where he coordinated all safety efforts, including the creation of their comprehensive school crisis plan, which serves as a model in the nation today. Sean Burke has over twenty-four years law enforcement experience, serving as a patrol officer, school resource officer, patrol supervisor, sexual assault and gang investigator. Burke is currently a Lieutenant in an urban police department in Massachusetts commanding the gang task force and SRO unit. 

    He is the former President of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) where he also served as a National Practitioner and a Senior Instructor for over 10 years. In 2004, Burke was awarded a Life Membership from NASRO in recognition of his work in the field of school safety. He serves as a grant review specialist and subject matter expert for the United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice in the area of law enforcement and school safety.

    Sean Burke currently serves as the President of the School Safety Advocacy Council and continues to travel, speak and consult for many governmental and non-governmental organizations.