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Orange County News
For Immediate Release Contact: Christopher BorekThursday, May 10, 2018 845.291.3276, 845.238.4245c
District Attorney Hoovler Announces Release ofSchool Critical Incident Procedures
Recommendations to School Districts on Procedures to
Assist Law Enforcement in the Investigation of Critical Incidents
That Occur on School Grounds or at School Events
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced on Thursday, May 10, 2018, that his office has developed and released a set of suggested procedures that school districts can follow in responding to incidents of violence or potential violence that occur on their campuses or at school events. The procedures were developed in cooperation with school superintendents, are voluntary on the part of school officials, and are designed to supplement the emergency procedures that school districts already have in place. The purpose of the recommended procedures is to enable school districts to effectively assist law enforcement in securing evidence, in case a school incident is later handled as a criminal matter.
Under the recommended procedures, a “critical incident” is any circumstance that results in harm, or that presents a threat of harm, to the students, staff, or property of a school, including circumstances occurring on school grounds, on school buses, or at school functions that occur off school grounds. Critical incidents include, among other things, verbal or written statements, social media posts contemplating harm, acquisition or use of weapons or other harmful substances, and completed acts of harm.
Features of the recommendations include:
Maintaining Lines of Communication. The recommendations suggest that a school district notify police immediately when a critical incident occurs. Police have also been separately asked to notify the District Attorney’s Office, which has an experienced prosecutor on-call at all times. Those notifications are meant to open a three-way line of communication, so that the school district, the police, and the District Attorney’s Office can share appropriate information about the incident.
“All too often, students and non-students perpetrate or threaten acts of violence on school campuses or at school functions,” said District Attorney Hoovler, “and it is the duty of educators and law enforcement to see that those incidents result in as little harm as possible, or, ideally, no harm at all. In addition, after the safety and security of students and school staff have been assured, it is incumbent on all of us to see that those cases are investigated properly, so that perpetrators can be punished or, if appropriate, receive mental health treatment that they need. Through the suggested procedures that we announce today, we hope to be able to bring our schools and law enforcement together, so that we can jointly protect the lives and safety of our children, and can ensure that the cause of justice is served after those incidents occur.”