Ensuring the safety and security of all teachers and staff in positive and supportive environments is a round-the-clock operation for the school safety and security and opportunity and achievement departments at Mesa Public Schools.
Developing impactful relationships
In classrooms and campuses, student resources officers, or SROs, play an integral part of the team and have kept students safe for more than 20 years. These fully sworn law enforcement officers are a liaison between the school and the police community and work to keep order and build relationships within the community.
Allen Moore, director of school safety and security at Mesa Public Schools, said there is an assigned SRO on every junior high and high school campus. The officers work for the police department and the district reimburses the police department for their salaries.
“The greatest benefit of having security officers on school campuses is the bridges that are built between the students and the police,” Moore said.
Student officer relationships are key to helping at-risk students by keeping them on the right path. These highly trained officers walk their campuses, responding to calls that include drugs, assault and any criminal activity. SROs are in classrooms, working to reduce crime by educating students about a variety of subjects that includes, consequences of drug abuse, drinking, vaping, violence and bullying, which contributes to a safe school environment.
“SROs foster an environment where students and parents feel comfortable approaching and speaking with the police officers,” said Mountain View High School Principal Greg Milbrant.
“Many times, sensitive information is shared that may not have been before, giving officers the opportunity to be preventative, instead of reactive.”
Strategies for creating
CARE (Crisis and Response Evaluation) teams implemented during the 2019-20 school year provide schools with the tools, supports and compassion needed during stressful events.
Dr. Michael Garcia, director of opportunity and achievement, shares each school CARE team consists of principals, counselors, nurses and related professionals trained to handle difficult and sensitive situations on a campus that may include the loss of a student or staff member, an individual expressing the potential to harm self, bullying, minor altercations or acts of nature on a campus. Should schools express the need for additional supports, a district CARE team is available to assist.
q“CARE Teams know what resources to deploy and can collaborate with district departments to provide schools with the help they need to ensure students and staff are safe and feel supported,” Garcia said.
Helpful resources for
parents and community
Access to social, emotional and mental health resources are located on all school counseling websites with helpful links to suicide prevention, taking people directly to additional resources for suicide prevention and where to get help.
“What’s great about these resources is that they are 24/7, so anyone can call at any time.” Garcia said.
For more information regarding suicide prevention, visit mpsaz.org/opportunity/suicide-prevention.