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Cincinnati Public Schools review protocol in wake of Florida shooting

Posted at 4:09 PM, Feb 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-16 19:40:14-05

CINCINNATI -- Officials at Cincinnati Public Schools are reviewing safety policies and protocol as a precaution in the wake of the deadly shooting at a Florida high school. 

Nikolas Cruz, the ex-student accused of shooting and killing 17 people, showed signs of mental health issues for some time, even posting to social media that he was going to become “a professional school shooter,” police said. 

Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Lauren Mitchell said teachers and staff in all of Cincinnati’s 62 school buildings are trained to recognize and assess mental health issues. Additionally, mental health professionals are in every school to help students. 

“We also have a critical response team made of up psychologists who go to schools when there is a critical incident that takes place to provide support counseling not only to our students, but to our staff members,” Mitchell said. 

If a teacher suspects there’s a problem, it’s reported to the principal and the mental health professionals. The district also works with a firm to monitor social media activity. 

“If certain words come up in anything that a student has written, then it sends a flag to central office and our IT department is able to identify where that specific message is coming from and can deploy resources to that school to be able to address that situation,” Mitchell said. 

There are over 4,000 security cameras throughout Cincinnati Public Schools. The district has 14 resource officers and 90 safety assistants. 

High schoolers go through metal detectors, and students in other buildings are wanded. The entire district is a no-gun zone, Mitchell said. 

Officials meticulously plan and evaluate procedures to reduce parents’ fear of sending their child to school and to ensure they're taking every step possible to keep students safe. 

“We want them to know and understand that the adults who are working with them — whether it’s a paraprofessional or whether it’s security or a teacher — they know exactly what to do and they can guide our students to safety,” Mitchell said. 

A safety task force comprised of officials from the FBI, Homeland Security, Cincinnati police, Cincinnati fire and school district personnel met Friday at district headquarters. The safety task force was formed well before the Florida shooting in an effort to prevent violence in Cincinnati.