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Area officials talk safety, security and mental health in wake of Florida shooting

Appeal-Democrat - 2/16/2018

Feb. 16--In the aftermath of a shooting which left 17 people dead on the campus of a Parkland, Fla., high school, local law enforcement and school officials said safety continues to be the top priority.

Dr. Baljinder Dhillon, Sutter County superintendent of schools, said there is a tremendous amount of grief among her colleagues and that the topic of conversation after events like this goes to safety precautions.

"Safety is on all our minds after this tragic event," Dhillon said. "We take our roles in providing safety to children very seriously and we are continually taking steps to improve all of our campuses."

Dhillon said emails from parents signify a higher level of concern and that in her most recent tour of Yuba City High School, the issue of safety was the first item that came up.

Dr. Francisco Reveles, Yuba County superintendent of schools, said there is always a tremendous amount of grief following a shooting on campus and that every school provides some form of grief counseling to its students.

As the conversation quickly turns to safety, Reveles said it is important to note that security is only one aspect of preventing tragic events.

"This is very early in the process and I do not want to speculate about this young man who committed these heinous acts," Reveles said. "But this kid may have suffered from some sort of depression or something which may have been identified."

Reveles said in addition to better security in Yuba County schools in recent years, expanded programs meant to identify issues with children on campus and at home are important in curbing such events.

Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor reiterated Reveles' concern about the mental state of not just the most recent suspected shooter in Florida, Nikolaus Cruz, but of every suspected shooter after an incident.

"In each of these horrifying and tragic events, it has been revealed that there were either family or friends aware of certain characteristics or indicators that something didn't seem right," Durfor said. "My urging to anyone is if there is any sense or a feeling that someone may possibly be considering such acts, please report it. If it turns out to be not a legitimate threat, then there is no foul."

From a security standpoint, Durfor said technological and strategic actions taken by local law enforcement in coordination with schools have improved in the last decade.

Durfor said the overhaul in how schools and law enforcement interact include annual active shooter training and for deputies to have an in-depth knowledge of county campuses.

"We are learning from each incident that happens and refining what we do to every degree we can," Durfor said.


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