Convention spotlights school violence

LAS VEGAS - School safety programs are a necessity because shootings are possible at any school.

That's the message being delivered during the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers annual convention.

Las Vegas has not experienced a blood bath like the April 20, 1999, shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., where 12 students and one teacher were killed. But the city has not gone untouched: A teacher was shot in a classroom in 1982, and a student was gunned down in a school cafeteria in 1990.

''We come up with a justification that it won't happen at my school for whatever reason,'' said Joe Schallmoser, a security supervisor at Columbine, who added that regardless of security measures, ''if someone wants to get a device in, he will.''

Schallmoser and Undersheriff John Dunaway of Jefferson County, Colo., who investigated the killings, are among the 230 principals, school police, city police and juvenile court administrators attending the convention at the Rio hotel-casino.

The convention is designed to share ideas about programs that are working in their communities.

Dan Reyes, chief of the Clark County School District police, stressed intervention, prevention and community partnerships among students administrators, parents and school and city police.

''Safety programs need to be considered a maintenance program of ongoing solutions,'' Reyes said.

He cited the nearly two-year-old Zero Weapons/Zero Tolerance program run by the Las Vegas police and the school district. The program was started to encourage students to help police keep weapons out of schools.

The program works, said Reyes, who reported that in 1999, 47 guns were confiscated on campuses. That number is lower than the 1991-92 school year when 132 guns were taken and the district had 100,000 fewer students.

For intervention, prevention and community partnerships to work, students, administrators and police must share information, Reyes said.


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