What’s happening in Rainbow Schools?
Partners sign Community Threat Assessment Protocol
A protocol that began with preventing and responding to tragic events in schools – like Columbine, Taber and Sandy Hook – has been expanded to the entire community.
Partners from the City of Greater Sudbury, Greater Sudbury Police Service, school boards, post-secondary institutions and community organizations came together on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 to sign the “Community Threat Assessment Protocol”, a collaborative response to a person of concern’s threat making behaviours.
Any of the partners to the protocol can activate a Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA). The goal is to keep the community safe by intervening before a violent incident occurs.
Trained VTRA teams work from the perspective that “serious violence is an evolutionary process” and no one “just snaps”. Data is often available that can help identify and prevent serious violence. VTRA Teams are trained to look for signs that allow for both early intervention and identification of rapidly evolving individuals of concern.
J. Kevin Cameron, Executive Director of the North American Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response, was in Sudbury to witness the important signing. “A violent incident can happen at any time. Recognizing the signs of a potential threat and responding with appropriate interventions goes a long way in mitigating risk,” said Kevin Cameron.
He added: “I commend local school boards and police for their leadership in implementing the Violence Threat Risk Assessment model. The 2019 Community Threat Assessment Protocol strengthens that commitment by bringing more partners together to work towards the common goal of maintaining safety for all.”
Kevin Cameron has developed protocols and provides training on traumatic events, before they escalate, and after they occur. He played a key role in the aftermath of the Taber, Alberta school shooting, among others, and works with police, school boards, cities and community agencies throughout Canada and the United States, including Sudbury.
In situations where data suggests a child, a youth, or adult may pose a significant risk to themselves or others, protocol partners agree to work together for the common goal of violence prevention, threat management and safety planning by sharing information, advice and support that assists in the reduction of risk.
Thresholds for VTRA Protocol activation include, but are not limited to, serious violence or violence with intent to harm or kill; verbal/written threats to kill others that are clear, direct and plausible; the use of technology to communicate threats to harm/kill others or cause serious property damage; possession of weapons, including replicas; bomb threats, including making and/or detonating explosive devices; fire setting; sexual intimidations and violence; chronic, pervasive, targeted bullying and/or harassment; gang-related intimidation and violence; and hate incidents motivated by factors including, but not limited to, race, religion, and/or sexual or gender diversity.
The Community Threat Assessment Protocol describes the three stages of a violence threat risk assessment – data collection and immediate risk reducing interventions; specialized risk evaluation; and comprehensive intervention, review, and follow-up. It outlines when to activate the protocol in response to worrisome behaviours, and brings resources together to implement appropriate interventions. The protocol details roles and responsibilities, as well as guidelines on information sharing, search and seizures, consent, and other legal considerations.
“When the team identifies that the person who threatened to use a knife actually has a knife then removing the weapon is an immediate risk-reducing intervention. However, removing the weapon does not prevent them from obtaining a knife again at a later date. As such, the intervention planning goes beyond access to the means (short-term) and instead works to decrease the likelihood that the person of concern will return to the point of even wanting to use a knife or harm someone in the future (long-term).”
Protocol partners believe it is incumbent on them to recognize, identify and implement preventative measures to mitigate threats to students, schools, the public and the community. Together, they form a powerful circle of care to ensure the community remains a safe place to learn, live and work.
Protocol partners include:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Sudbury
- Cambrian College
- Canadian Mental Health Association – Sudbury/Manitoulin/Association canadienne pour la santé mentale – Sudbury/Manitoulin
- Child & Community Resources/Ressources pour l’Enfance et la Communauté
- Child and Family Centre/Centre de l’enfant et de la famille /Ngodweaangizwin Aaskaagewin
- Children’s Community Network/Réseau communautaire pour enfants
- City of Greater Sudbury/Ville du Grand Sudbury
- Collège Boréal
- Conseil scolaire catholique Nouvelon
- Conseil scolaire public du Grand Nord de l’Ontario
- Greater Sudbury Police Service/Les Services policiers du Grand Sudbury
- Kina Gbezhgomi Child and Family Services
- Mental Health and Addiction/Santé mentale et toxicomania/Health Sciences North/Horizon Santé-Nord
- Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services/Ministère des Services à l’enfance et des Services sociaux et communautaires
- Northern Youth Services Inc.
- Ontario Provincial Police/Police provinciale de l’Ontario
- Rainbow District School Board
- Sudbury Action Centre for Youth
- Sudbury and Area Victim Services/Services aux victimes du Grand Sudbury
- Sudbury Catholic District School Board
- Sudbury District Restorative Justice/Reparatrice du District de Sudbury
- The Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury & Manitoulin/
La Société d’aide à l’enfance des districts de Sudbury et de Manitoulin
- YMCA of Northeastern Ontario Employment Services & Immigrant Services/
YMCA du Nord-Est de l’Ontario Services d’emploi & Services aux immigrants
Anna Maria Barsanti, VTRA Community Coordinator