Los Angeles County Triples Size of ‘School Threat’ Task Force

Published : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 | 7:58 PM

A Pasadena police active school shooter training exercise at Washington Middle School in 2013.

Los Angeles County Supervisors are working to expand a school violence prevention program which provides students, parents and teachers with an outlet to report threats and cooperates with law enforcement agencies to ensure those threats are immediately investigated.

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th Supervisorial District includes Pasadena and all of San Gabriel Valley, said the START program – which stands for School Threat Assessment Response Team – is already working to intervene whenever there are threats to schools

“Preventing campus violence through early identification and intervention is really key,” Barger said at a press conference with fellow Supervisor Janice Hahn at Torrance High School Monday. “Since START was created a decade ago, it has made immense progress to help protect our students and provide them with the mental health resources they need.”

Last July, the county moved to triple START staffing, as the county prepared for school opening.

The START program utilizes staff from the LA County Department of Mental Health to provide threat prevention and management assistance to educational institutions and law enforcement agencies throughout the county.

START staff, in collaboration with schools and first responders, have responded to numerous incidents in elementary, middle, high school, college and trade school campuses – preventing stated or perceived threats from escalating into more serious and potentially violent situations.

When potential threats are reported, these are thoroughly studied, and individuals are directed to either mental health professionals or police based on what START staff believe should be the next step.

The program conducts training and consultation, with audience-specific presentations at no cost to schools and parents. Trainings increase situational awareness among school administrators, faculty, parents, students, campus security, and local law enforcement.

Numerous schools in the county have already undergone training since the program started.

To learn more about START, email START@dmh.lacounty.gov or visit www.dmh.lacounty.gov/START.

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