Safe Havens Resumes Publication of School Safety Newsletter

Due to the massive surge in requests for services following the tragedy at Marjorie-Stoneman Douglas High School in February, 2018, we had to discontinue publication of our newsletter School Safety Monthly.  Even though we had 62 analysts, our team was fully tasked performing school safety, security, climate, culture and emergency preparedness assessments for more than 1,000 schools in 12 months while also providing post-incident assistance for six different active assailant and targeted shootings at K12 schools.  To properly serve those that needed our assistance, we dramatically reduced blog posts, newsletter publication and put a free guide we were about to publish on hold.

Though we have cleared most of our projects, we are still heavily booked until January.  While it will likely take a few more months for us to be able to get back to the regular volume of newsletters, blogs and new free school safety guides we typically produce.  Click here to sign up for our free e-newsletter School Safety Monthly. You can also download our most recent edition here, which is focused on the controversial movements to discontinue school resource officer programs and to “re-imagine” how the protection they have offered is provided.

This month’s issue also includes information on a free virtual seminar I will be presenting on October 8th courtesy of Fanning Howey Architecture.  The seminar School Safety by Design will focus on practical ways to improve school safety, security, climate and emergency preparedness in new school construction and renovation projects.

The Failure to Try

I just finished viewing one of the most powerful five-minute video clips I have ever watched.  The video features Tom Satterly who retired from the United States Army as a Master Sergeant after many years of service as a Delta Force Special Operator.  Master Sergeant Satterly was awarded six Bronze Stars for his service in combat in four countries.  His first exposure to combat was an 18-hour firefight in Mogadishu and was depicted in the movie Black Hawk Down.  At the time, this was the longest sustained continuous gun battle for American soldiers since the Vietnam War.   If you have read Staying Alive – How To Survive Deadly Encounters, you likely recall that Satterly was directly involved with the captures of both Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein.  In his new video, Master Sergeant Satterly delivers a powerful and much-needed message about how important it is for people not to fail to try when confronted with opportunity, challenges and even the seemingly overwhelming odds of survival.

Master Sergeant Satterly’s new video is even more powerful and valuable.  I urge you to take five minutes to hear a powerful and important message by watching this video  I can assure you that you will find the segment to be worth your time.

Tom also contributed to a series of free training videos on our website:

Staying Alive – Combat and Lessons for Every Day Crisis Stress from Safe Havens International on Vimeo.

All of the videos can be accessed at our “Staying Alive” resources page:

Staying Alive

Feedback from visitors to our website has been that these compelling videos have been helpful to many educators and public safety officials from around the world. Master Sergeant Satterly is scheduled to testify before the United States Congress on the topics of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how our military can better serve those like him who have allowed the rest of us to enjoy the freedom and safety that is truly unique in contrast with other democracies let alone the majority of nations.

I am thankful to Tom Satterly and the thousands of other brave men and women who serve as soldiers, police officers, firefighters, security personnel, mental health professionals, educators and other selfless professionals who sacrifice in different ways to make our world a better place.   Master Sergeant Satterly’s powerful message reminds us that we can achieve much as long as we do not fail to try.

Arapahoe High School Active Shooter Post-Incident Review

*NEW* Arapahoe High School Active Shooter Post-Incident Review report (PDF, 1.5MB)

Presentation of Findings from the Post-Incident Review of the Arapaho High School Shooting

Arapahoe High School

As outlined in a blog last week and reported in Campus Safety Magazine, Safe Havens International conducted a pro bono independent review of the active shooter incident that occurred at Arapaho High School in Littleton, Colorado in 2013.  This review was conducted as part of an arbitration process agreed to by the Littleton Public School District (LPS) and the parents of Arapaho High School student Claire Davis, who was killed in the attack.  I presented the findings of our team to the Littleton Public School Board last Thursday.  Dr. Linda Kanan and Dr. John Nicolletti also presented to the board on a separate report they prepared with the assistance of Dr. Sara Gorrido and Mariya Dvoskina. This meeting was followed by a press conference.

The following day, we presented our findings to a subcommittee of the Colorado Legislature at the State Capitol.  Two experts who conducted a review for the Davis family also presented their findings to the committee.  The well-attended hearing lasted four and a half hours. A major focus of the post-incident reviews were on student threat evaluation and why no students used state’s Safe2Tell anonymous reporting line even though the school participated in this program at the time of the shooting.

Looking Comprehensively at School Shootings

During this process, Dr. Kanan has mentioned to me that there is a dangerous tendency for people to try to boil school shootings down into overly simplified concepts.  I agree with her concerns.  One important caution in the Safe Havens report involved the need to look comprehensively at the prevention of active shooter incidents.  While these two topical areas are clearly important and were among a number of important aspects of this particular case, we cautioned that a number of active shooter events at K12 schools did not involved currently enrolled students.  For example, two of the nation’s three most deadly K12 school shootings to date involved attackers who were not currently enrolled students at the time of their attacks.  As these three attacks account for roughly 70% of all homicides by active shooter deaths in K12 schools in the United States from 1998 to 2013, it is important to remember that prevention strategies must address outside aggressors as well as student attackers.  An over-reliance on only a few prevention strategies can leave gaps that are easily exploited by future attackers.

Lessons Learned

The unique arbitration process will help educators, mental health professionals, school safety practitioners and legislators better understand how this tragedy occurred.  There were some points of agreement between the three evaluation teams as well as some very significant differences. When carefully read, the reports can also shed light into ways to enhance our ability to try to prevent future school attacks.   We hope that those how are concerned about school violence prevention will learn from this process.

Click here to download our Post-Incident Review of the
Arapahoe High School Shooting