LOVELAND, Colo. — School districts across Colorado are realizing that campus safety doesn’t just mean locking doors and having an armed officer outside. More schools are now investing in mental health treatment to prevent the next school shooting.
The Thompson School District in Loveland is adding "campus monitors" to their secondary schools, focusing on a mixture of physical safety and mental health help.
"What we’re really trying to do here is, how can we see what’s happening inside our schools and focus on the troubles that maybe some of the kids are having," said Todd Piccone, chief operations officer for the Thompson School District. "We have an school resource officer at every school. This is additional support for the SRO and the students."
Todd Piccone with the Thompson School District has seen the news of school shootings across the country, just like the rest of us. As students spent the summer at home, the district spent its time figuring out how to make classrooms safer.
Their answer: focus on mental health.
When students return to class at the end of the month, they’ll be greeted by uniformed campus monitors. They aren’t police officers, but a mix between a security guard and a counselor. They’re unarmed, working alongside the armed SRO’s the district already has.
"The biggest thing is just connect with that kid and get them the services that they need while also providing a layer of physical security," said Joe Vodjansky, safety and security Manager for Thompson School District. "Talk to them, what support do they need to connect them with the appropriate resources?"
The district will place two campus monitors at each of its five high schools and one at each of its five middle schools. Every school in the district already has an armed SRO assigned to it.
The campus monitors are tasked with helping SROs make sure the doors are locked and nothing suspicious is going on outside. Their most important job is on the inside.
"We’re trying to catch something as something may be festering within someone," Piccone said. "This is our look at a proactive approach. This is our way of trying to catch something before it happens."