Sioux City Times

Sioux City Times

Friday, February 21, 2020

School Safety Bureau created to prevent school shootings


By Kimberly James | Jan 27, 2020

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Gov. Kim Reynolds | Facebook

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is creating a School Safety Bureau, a team that, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Safety and Iowa Department of Education, aims to protect teachers and students from threats such as school shootings.

Southernminn reports that Iowa schools already have safety plans in place and have received training to prevent and respond to violence. This special bureau takes that a step further by employing special agents to train teachers, other school officials and local law enforcement to report and investigate threats of violence.

“News headlines about school shootings and threats at unsuspecting communities across America are becoming all too common,” Reynolds said. “And although those headlines don’t often involve schools in Iowa, we can’t wait until they do to act.”

Reynolds requested $2 million from legislators this year, the bureau's first, and around $1.5 million each subsequent year. 

Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said that early reporting by students is also an important factor in preventing violence, but many students who do know of potential danger do not report it for fear of being bullied or called a snitch. He said that in 80 percent of school shootings, at least one other person knew what was planned. The proposal also includes the implementation of a tip line, apps or other technology that would allow students to report suspicions and threats anonymously.

Bayens also said that many threats have a digital component, being foreshadowed on social media or messaging apps. The special agents on the bureau will be cyber experts and able to help law enforcement pursue these online leads.

The Center for Homeland Defense and Security reports that there have been more than 1,300 school shootings in the United States since 1970. This organization keeps record of every time a gun is brandished, fired, or bullets hit school property for any reason.

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