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Officials attend school violence conference

by Merrie Leininger

Members of the Douglas County School District and Sheriff’s Office took part in a school violence conference in Los Angeles in June.

Sgt. Stan Lamb, Deputy Dan Coverly, Lt. Mike Biaggini and Douglas High School Principal Bev Jeans went to the one-day conference that was held by Gavin DeBecker, Inc., which specializes in threat assessments for the CIA, the presidents and their families and other federal agencies.

DeBecker has also authored two books about child safety called “The Gift of Fear,” and “Protecting the Gift.”

Lamb said he met many of the 200 people from all over the West involved in school safety.

The one-day event concentrated on the Littleton shooting, Lamb said.

“We learned a lot about prevention methods. We also learned a lot of background and what led up to the different school shootings and got a lot of ideas,” Lamb said.

Douglas County School Superintendent Pendery Clark said Jeans, who is on vacation now, told her she was excited about the conference.

“They came back with a lot of information. She said it was tremendously helpful and it was important to get the information to other administrators before school starts,” Clark said.

Lamb said the conference made him feel good because Douglas County is relatively safe.

“I’m proud to say about 95 percent of the suggestions they gave, we already have in place,” he said.

For instance, he said, the group was told an anonymous hotline is crucial, and Douglas County just recently set up a 24-hour hotline aimed at teen-agers, 783-SAFE.

The leaders of the conference also suggested police work closely with the faculty and students on safety plans, and “we have been doing that for a continued period of time and there has been a lot of teamwork between the school district and law enforcement.”

Lamb said he was particularly affected by a speaker who is a psychologist from Maryland who works as a hostage negotiator with the state police.

“He gave an incredibly riveting discussion of school shooting – and there are more than we think there have been – and the common components of each,” Lamb said.

He said that discussion was worth the whole trip and said he might be a welcome addition to the parent symposium on school violence planned for Oct. 20.

The trip was paid for by the school-based grant the DCSO received last year to help fund the Douglas High School Peer Court and one participant’s $375 fee was waived by the conference organizers.