Littleton officials to address safety symposium |

Littleton officials to address safety symposium

by Merrie Leininger

The sheriff and public information officer of Jefferson County, Colo., will be keynote speakers at a Douglas County school safety symposium, sharing their insight into the events that took place in their hometown of Littleton.

Deputy Steve Davis said he and Sheriff John Stone have often been asked to speak to communities since the April shooting at Columbine High School, and are happy to speak at the Oct. 20 parent symposium at Douglas High School.

“We’ve been asked by a lot of law enforcement to shed some light on how to deal with something of that magnitude,”Davis said. “In the beginning, people wanted us to tell them how to prevent it, and I don’t think anyone knows how to do that.”

However, he said, they do have suggestions for programs and policy changes that can help make a school safer.

“That’s one thing we talk about a lot, to be prepared – have some groundwork laid. It is impossible to be totally prepared for such a big incident. We couldn’t even be prepared for something that big, but something should be in place,” Davis said.

n Community responsibility. “The school board was interested in some sort of forum on school safety. It was just a natural thing because school safety was on everyone’s minds,” said Superintendent Pendery Clark. “It is really a community issue, so we wanted to bring everyone together, especially because the more we read about the incidents, the parents’ role is so important in identifying behaviors before the incident.”

Clark said the symposium will also include information from the school district and the sheriff’s office on what has been done to prevent school violence, and resources parents can use to help a child in trouble.

“It gives us the opportunity to tell (parents) what we are doing with the sheriff’s office and get parents involved and we hope to have sign-up sheets for parents interested in volunteering at the schools,” Clark said. “It’s for all parents K-12.”

Sheriff Ron Pierini said in order to draw the numbers of people they wanted, he talked to Douglas County Communications Director Dick Mirgon, who had previously worked with Sheriff Stone.

“I think our whole goal is prevention. We want to try to be as proactive as we can and try to prevent school violence. I don’t want to wait until something happens,” Pierini said. “And it just seemed so important for the community to come together to learn what they can do to help us and how we can help them to get information and to draw the numbers of people we wanted, to bring in someone who had experience with this and had national exposure. We were so excited they would be willing to come and speak to us.”

Clark said the school district asked the speakers to discuss the lessons they learned after the shooting.

“We asked them to talk about what clues were picked up prior to the incident, and information about community response in developing plans or programs after – and also how this has changed the school’s relationship with law enforcement,” Clark said.

Clark also sent them information about things Douglas County has done to prevent school violence.

The program is expected to draw a large crowd.

“We are expecting a huge turnout. Other communities want to listen and see what Douglas is doing,” Pierini said.