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How can we prevent the next school shooting?




Students react following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles north of Miami on Feb. 14, 2018.
Students react following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles north of Miami on Feb. 14, 2018.
Michele Eve Sandberg/AFP/Getty Images

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In the aftermath of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, there's been an uptick in reports of threats being called or reported at schools. 

Here in Southern California,  about 20 school threats were reported,  including threats or suspicious online posts in Manhattan Beach, Whittier and Los Angeles. 

While this tends to follow a normal pattern of people being more alert and responsive to reporting threats after high-profile incidents, many wonder if there's a better way to deal with threatening situations, and how to separate incidents that should genuinely concern officials from obvious false threats. 

This concern is shared by Jim Bueermann,  formerly the Chief of Police for the Redlands Police Department. Bueermann now heads the non-profit organization, the Police Foundation, and they're conducting a study on situations where school shootings have been effectively averted, and what we can learn from them. 

In cases where an act of school violence has been averted, almost always it is because someone heard or saw something that made them suspicious about the individual that might have done the shooting, and then said something about that person. That set off a protocol where the officials were able to do something and intervene ... so it is literally operationalizing of this notion of see something say something ... 

And one of the things that his organization advocates is the notion of mental health first aid ...

Mental health first aid is sort of patterned after the first aid training that most of us have received in some form or another, relative to people chocking or having a heart attack, giving people CPR ...  Mental health first aid is just sort of this idea that there is simple, plain language training that can be given to people to help them understand when they're in a mental health crisis ... and then the idea is that you tell somebody, or you help them get some help. 

Jim Bueermann is the president of the Police Foundation, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization.