Arlington Launches Threat Assessment Team To Prevent School Violence

Chris Sommer
August 19, 2019 - 4:42 pm
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ARLINGTON (KRLD) - As the school year begins in the Arlington ISD, the district is involved in a new partnership that includes police, mental health professionals and others in the community. The goal is to identify, evaluate and help at-risk students who may pose a threat to public safety, such as a school shooting.

The Multidisciplinary Threat Assessment Team (MTAT) will review incidents of threatening behavior by students, both current and former. The team will also look at information regarding at-risk students and individuals and determine when they require help before a situation escalates to potential violence.

Along with Arlington Police and the school district, the MTAT includes My Health My Resource of Tarrant County.

Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson said, "The focus of providing a safe learning environment for all students, faculty and visitors is of paramount importance for our department. We are looking forward to further collaboration with the school district and mental health providers to ensure long-term successes for our student population."

Police normally do not get involved with an at-risk student unless alleged criminal behavior has been reported. Arlington Lt. Christopher Cook said, "We're able to partner from the beginning when something's not criminal to try and employ intervention techniques for these kids, so that we can get them back on the right path."

Cook said they also hope the new partnership will give students and faculty more encouragement to speak up if they notice something unusual. "A lot of times, you hear people say, 'Wow, we never saw that coming,' or maybe, 'Yeah, that student might have been a loner, but we never thought he would commit an act of violence,' and so sometimes, there are missed opportunities where someone might have been able to intervene." He continued, "When you have students who can look at a civil remedy, if you will, referring a student that may just need some help, just may need someone to pat them on the back and get them on the straight and narrow, they're more willing in our opinion to go along with a program like that."

In April, Arlington PD hired a school violence prevention program coordinator who is also a Licensed Social Worker. That new position, along with the Youth Services Lieutenant and School Resource Sergeants, will be the primary contacts for the police department in the MTAT effort.

Cook said the MTAT is an original concept in Arlington.  "I believe you'll see other school districts around the nation that will try to replicate these efforts," he said.

The MTAT will address the needs in all public, private and charter schools in Arlington, including Mansfield ISD schools located within the Arlington city limits.​