ALLEN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Since the new school year began, the Dallas FBI says it’s seem an increase in potential threats in North Texas.
The FBI calls a threat assessment program implemented last year by the Allen Police Department and Allen ISD a model for the state.
After the deadly high school shootings in Santa Fe, Texas and Parkland, Florida last year, the Allen ISD and Allen Police Department created a detailed threat assessment program.
Jennifer Atencio, a crisis counselor at Allen High School and for the district as a whole, said the goal is not only responding to the threats, but also helping students stay out of the criminal justice system.
“If we can build connectedness with the student, then there’s a greater likelihood that they will not follow-through with any intent to cause any harm.”
A threat assessment of a student begins when he or she makes a threat of violence against a school. But administrators say most of the time it involves youngsters venting something inappropriate out of frustration.
Atencio says already this school year, threat assessment teams are working with three students across the district.
Last year, the district worked with more than 100 students who made threats.
Atencio says about 75% of them didn’t have the ability or intent to carry-out their threats.
More than 20% of the students made a more serious threat, but Atencio says they didn’t have the means to carry it out.
Less than 5% of the students were arrested.
Atencio said all were eligible for help.
“We could look at academic support for the student. We’re also looking at social, emotional support as well. Does the student need to meet with a counselor more frequently on the campus or do parents need resources to provide support for the student outside of the school?”
Sgt. Jason Erter is the supervising School Resource Officer for the Allen Police Department. He says, “It goes well beyond just protecting the students and staff here. We’re actually able to identify needs for students that we may not have otherwise identified.”
He said the threat assessment program has also helped change the culture at the Allen High School because students, teachers, and parents are no longer hesitant to report potential threats.
“It’s been extremely effective. We’ve had an uptick in reports coming in.”
Allen ISD Deputy Superintendent Robin Bullock said parents and teachers are pleased with the program.
“It is a priority for us here in the district to ensure that we provide everything we can and implement our processes to keep our students and staff safe on a daily basis.”
A spokeswoman said the Dallas FBI wants to remind students and parents that all law enforcement agencies take all potential threats to life seriously.