Police, community leaders gather to help keep kids safe at school

March 09, 2018 02:19 PM

ALBANY - Keeping kids safe in school is the topic of a local forum. Police chiefs, mental health experts, and school leaders gathered at the University at Albany for that conversation on Friday.

The forum was conducted by Albany County. The topics included listening, reacting, intervening and knowing that the signs are there.

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"What we want to do too is intervene early. We want to teach our academic advisors and coaches and people who work closely with students what the signs are," said UAlbany Psychologist Dolores Cimini.

This the real world right now, we hope it never happens, but it may.

That's the reason for this discussion from Albany County leaders – life after Parkland, Florida.

"We can't just point fingers at law enforcement," said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. "We need to point fingers all the way around and have conversations like this and sit down and get to the root of the problem – and hopefully all work together and come up with the funding to do this."

Next week, March 14, there is a planned staged walkout at schools nationwide and locally. However, even high schoolers on the panel don't want it to just be a day out of class.

"Because this was in a high school and these kids were applying to colleges, they were starting their future and it just ended. I think that really scared us," said Asma Bawla, a student at Shaker High School.

"If they had emotions because of this, it was okay because it could have happened to us and that's why we all come together and we made everyone feel comfortable and safe," said Patrick Ethier, a student at Watervliet High School.

This issue started on most people's radars with the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. It also hit very close to home back in 2004 at Columbia High School in East Greenbush. At that school, one student was stopped early but got off some shots.

Now, there are 17 people who have been killed in Parkland. This one resonated and will for quite some time.

"This discussion I'm hoping is going to add to more and we're going to get more students involved and more professionals involved," said Albany County Executive Dan McCoy. "No one really has the answer and that's the problem. So I figured if we start this discussion today, then we can go out into the community."

"Having a gun to protect yourself is important, but having a machine gun that can kill so many people in one minute is not necessary," said Bawla.

The 90-minute forum ended with the simple phrase that, "This is not one and done."


WNYT Staff

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