The Arlington Police Department is launching a threat assessment team in conjunction with the Arlington ISD and MHMR Tarrant County designed to identify at-risk students who may pose a risk to other children and get them help before a situation escalates to violence.
The department made the announcement on the first day of school for children in the Arlington Independent School District.
"The sad reality is it is not too early to talk about how well it is going," Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson said. "We know that we've had at least 10 interventions with children within the first week alone."
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"The main goal of the MTAT (Multidisciplinary Threat Assessment Team) is to promote a safe school environment by identifying at-risk students who may present a public safety concern, assess their risk for engaging in violence or other harmful activities, and identify intervention strategies to assist them in being productive students," the department said in a prepared statement. "The MTAT will review incidents of threatening behavior by students, both current and former. This team will also review information regarding at-risk students or individuals and determine when a student requires help before it escalates to potential violence."
The department said the MTAT will also include students in charter and private schools located within city limits.
"Making our schools as safe as possible is a top priority," said Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, Arlington ISD. "We are grateful for the partnership with the Arlington Police Department and the number of resources they provide to help our students, teachers and counselors who are in our classrooms everyday."
In a statement released Monday morning, the department said:
The threat assessment is an independent process which will occur regardless of whether a police report is generated or criminal investigation occurs; however, in some cases, there may be some overlap depending on the situation. The MTAT process maximizes school and community resources by determining the level of supervision and intensity of intervention required to decrease risks and ensure needed support to address the area of concern.
"The focus of providing a safe learning environment for all students, faculty and visitors is of paramount importance for our department," said Police Chief Will Johnson. "We are looking forward to further collaboration with the school district and mental health providers to ensure long term successes for our student population."
MTAT is funded by a grant received in October 2018 by the Office of Community Policing Services (COPS) STOP School Violence: School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) and will be directed by a School Violence Prevention Program Coordinator, a licensed social worker hired by the department in April. The program coordinator, along with the department's existing Youth Services Lieutenant and School Resource Sergeants, will be the primary contacts for the police department.