RI To Put 'Threat Assessment Teams' Into Schools To Combat Shootings

AP Photo/Yakima Herald-Republic, TJ Mullinax, File

The one thing none of us want to see is another school shooting. If that era of American history is behind us, then good riddance.


Regardless of any political ramifications, the truth is that school shootings hit many of us in the gut because we have children. We’re torn by competing emotions. On the one hand, we’re sorrowful over the loss of life and mourn with the grieving parents. On the other, we’re thankful that our children will be coming home.

Since Parkland, the only real thing we’ve heard out of many has been to restrict gun ownership, as if punishing law-abiding citizens for the acts of a maniac is somehow the reasonable solution to a horrific problem. Anyone opposing gun control has been accused of enabling the next mass shooter, despite clear efforts to find some other kind of solution.

In Rhode Island, legislators are trying something along those lines.

As gun-control advocates push for action on a proposed school firearms ban, House lawmakers Wednesday approved a different approach to preventing school shootings: new rules requiring local school districts to create “threat assessment teams” to look for potentially dangerous students.

These teams of guidance counselors, administrators, mental health professionals and police would train faculty on how to recognize students who could become violent, come up with policies around reporting suspicious behavior and evaluate students considered dangerous.

The bill passed unanimously with no discussion and is House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s latest policy proposal on school shootings since a gunman killed 17 people at a Florida high school last year. It was recommended by state police Capt. Derek Borek, chairman of the state’s School Safety Committee.


I’m not going to lie, I’m less than thrilled with this one, but I do feel the need to applaud the state of Rhode Island for trying something other than gun control.

Why am I less than thrilled?

I think it’s going to label a lot of students as potentially violent when they’re nothing of the sort. We still don’t understand the roots of violence in any meaningful way, so how can we tell if something is a warning sign or not?

But that’s just my opinion here. I very well may be wrong. Either way, I think this is a better move for keeping our kids safe. The idea is to head off violence before it happens and that’s something we should all be in favor of. There’s a reason it passed unanimously. If I were a lawmaker in Rhode Island, even with my concerns, I’d have voted for it as well as my concerns are mild and it seems clear that these teams will adapt to new information as it comes out.

My real issue, when you get down to it, is the lack of information available to these teams.

I still maintain we need to fix that. We need to understand this behavior. We need to understand what makes someone decide to slaughter people on a massive scale. Then we can perform meaningful threat assessments.

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