JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – Jackson county’s threat assessment team has been operating ever since the fatal Parkland school shooting in Florida in 2018.
“We have several incidents that came to the attention of juvenile services where we’re looking at where do we get this risk assessment for harm. And just nobody was doing it,” said Joe Ferguson, Jackson County’s deputy director of the juvenile department.
Now, every school district in the county is trained and prepared to respond to threats at its schools through the Salem-Keizer Threat Assessment Model.
“I think we’ve come a long way,” said Jackson County Health and Human Services director Stacy Brubaker. “All the school districts are on board with this now.”
Here’s how the threat assessment works: it’s broken up into different levels. Level One threats are managed at the district level between psychologists, school administrators, and school resource officers.
“Most of these kids that make these types of threats have no sense of belonging,” Brubaker said. “They have no social supports. They’re homes are typically chaotic and they don’t have a lot of supervision.”
If its more than a school can handle, its bumped up to a Level 2 threat.
“We actually do have a rare group of people for our Level 2’s,” said Brubaker. “In addition to having mental health, law enforcement, community justice both adult and juvenile community justice, we also have DA’s (district attorneys) that actually are on the call.”
County officials say the best thing someone can do with a suspected threat is report it.
“Even if they only have a little piece of information they need to report that,” Brubaker said. “When we’ve gone to these conferences that’s what law enforcement usually says: if we had had all the pieces to the puzzle we might have been able to intervene.”
The threat assessment team says even for the smaller school districts, the county will provide services to help students get the resources they need.
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