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Could the work of Secret Service agents teach us how to make schools safer?

Posted at 6:26 PM, Dec 01, 2021

OXFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) — Could school leaders learn how to better protect students from the work of the Secret Service? WXYZ talked to school security and education leaders about what went right preventing more death, and what went wrong costing lives at Oxford High School.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement agencies around Metro Detroit are investigating a number of “copycat” threats that came after the deadly violence at Oxford High Tuesday. Some schools closed for the day in response.

Protecting children is on everyone’s mind.

“I just hope we are brave enough as a state, as a community, to have conversations that need to happen. These kids, their families, they deserve that,” said Robert McCann, Executive Director of the K-12 Alliance of Michigan.

McCann says Oxford High School had many measures in place to prevent a student from firing on classmates. They had training, plans, and a school resource officer on duty. The sheriff’s office says the shooting only lasted about 5 minutes, because of a quick response preserving lives.

“Every 30 seconds, or whatever it is, there is another casualty,” said Todd Runyan, Regional Director of the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Runyan says he believes what happened at Oxford High shows the importance of School Resource Officers in an emergency. He has heard some ask, should there be metal detectors? He warns they can provide a false sense of security. People can smuggle weapons in through windows or emergency exits, for example.

“We still have people that are able to bypass those. Are they a tool that can be used? Absolutely. I am grateful that so far we don’t have them in my community,” said Runyan.

“The Secret Service is a leading agency in studying incidents like what just occurred,” said Bill Cousins, CEO W.J. Cousins and Associates.

Cousins owns a company that provides security consultants and risk analysis. He worked with the Secret Service for more than two decades as a supervisory special agent.

“There is every indication this individual left signs he may do something like this,” said Cousins.

Cousins says Secret Service agents are trained to approach people who talk or write about hurting someone and get them help.

“You have to identify people who are hurting,” said Cousins.

He says schools need resources to help people who are hurting to protect students and staff, following the model of the work of the Secret Service.

“We could arrest that individual for what they said, but the best thing is to get them help,” said Cousins.

Education advocates agree. Michigan’s counselors each have hundreds more students than are recommended.

The investigation is still underway, discovering what happened leading to the tragedy at Oxford High School.