Officials: Current threat assessment adequateThe local response to school threats won't change, despite a call to alter the system.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
The local response to school threats won't change, despite a call to alter the system.
School officials, police and prosecutors said the current system remains useful after being put into action last week. Police were alerted Nov. 9 that a gun threat may have been made by a student at Twin Bluff Middle School.
No violence related to threat occurred, though it did raise the question of how notification occurs.
Supt. Stan Slessor said he should have alerted police Nov. 6 when word first spread of the possible gun threat.
"That was my mistake," he said at Monday's Red Wing School Board meeting. "The police can do a better job with investigating than we can."
He said that was validated Tuesday after a meeting with Red Wing police and members of the Goodhue County Attorney's Office.
The case showed even rumors of a threat must go straight to police investigators, Slessor said.
Police Chief Tim Sletten said that's necessary in order to determine the seriousness of a claim.
"Most times you may not get a clear message," Sletten said. "But it should be enough to kick in an investigation."
Attendees at Tuesday's meeting did not move forward with a Red Wing School Board member's call for a new threat assessment system.
Perry Sekus told fellow School Board members he would like to see a system that convenes members from schools, law enforcement, the courts, social services and teachers to discuss safety and at-risk students. The group could be called upon immediately to review emergency situations, he said.
"You would have all the informed people at the table," Sekus said.
But he said an "unwillingness by our law enforcement and our county attorney" has impeded the formation of such a team.
"Why we don't have one is beyond me," said Sekus, who, as former assistant U.S. Attorney, worked on the prosecution team in the 2005 Red Lake school shooting case.
Goodhue County Attorney Stephen Betcher said the current evidence-based system "is practical" and has resulted in 74 felony-level charges since put into effect in 1998.
Sekus' proposal seeks to predict behavioral outcomes, Betcher said, and doesn't rely enough on evidence.
"It doesn't work," Betcher said. "It can't work. You have to go with the evidence you have at the time of the given incident."
The current system involves a police investigation and consultation with prosecutors, who immediately consult with a judge about placement of the suspect student. The cases are fast-tracked through the juvenile courts system one to three days after the incident.
Betcher said last week's case did not result in an arrest. He declined to say whether the case remained open.
"Based on the information that was gathered, no charges are being filed at this time," he said.
Some School Board members seemed supportive of an effort to involve other members into threat assessments. School Board member Mike Christensen said that plan should move forward whether or not authorities sign on.
"If people meet regularly, it can reduce surprises," he said.