DA Flynn to provide assistant district attorneys to school districts
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says with another high school shooting occurring in Maryland Tuesday, it's time to take action. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says Flynn announced the School Critical Incident Initiative during the annual Safe Schools conference hosted by the University at Buffalo at the Center for the Arts in Amherst Tuesday.
DA Flynn said since the Parkland, Florida school shootings last month there have been numerous threats at a number of school districts in Erie County.
Flynn will assign his assistant district attorneys to act as liaisons to every school district across Erie County.
“To ensure that nothing falls through the cracks – all the gaps are filled,” Flynn remarked. We here, in Erie County, have a coordinated effort amongst all 27-police agencies, amongst all 30 school districts, to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks, all the gaps are filled and each threat and incident is investigated thoroughly.”
By assigning ADA's to the school districts it will allow questioning of witnesses and to legally handle those under 18-years of age.
“It if comes to a point where we’ve got to interview witnesses and the school district and SRO (School Resource Officer) needs guidance on where, when and how to speak to a juvenile, my office can be there to assist that as well,” Flynn explained.
Flynn unveiled his plan as UB hosted the 15th annual Safe Schools conference at the Center for the Arts. It included discussions on collaboration with education and law enforcement. It also featured speaker Michele Gay. She lost her daughter in the 2012 Sandy Hook School shootings.
“It’s difficult, it’s challenging, but it’s something I feel that I cannot do,” Gay said.
Gay talked about how school communities need to take action to improve school security and safety.
“We can’t stop this effort. We have to continue. We have to work harder. We have to dig deeper and I think the more attention that school safety gets, the more attention that we are paying to those underlying causes,” Gay stated.
School districts and educators from across the region attended the day-long conference. Tammy Prosser is a school counselor at Christian Central Academy in Williamsville and attended the conference.
“I think there’s a big push for counselors to be more involved in schools and to bring that support in schools. It was interesting what they talked about the school resource officers – that they are really there to do preventive stuff, as opposed to reactive and I feel as a school counselor that’s a lot of my job to,” Prosser said.
The director of the National School Resource Officers, Mo Canady, also appeared at UB Tuesday for the conference. Canady said it's time for federal, state and local governments to figure out a way to fund a trained school resource officer to be inside every school building across the nation.
“Because we believe that the people to be armed in a school environment really should be a trained law enforcement officer – specifically an SRO and we believe if SRO’s are put in that position in every school, there might not be the need for teachers being armed, we also do recognize though communities are going to make their own decision about this,” Canady stated.