Oakland County Sheriff encourages schools to communicate possible threats, says 'you're not bothering us'

Oakland County Sheriff's car
Photo credit Mike Campbell/WWJ-FILE

PONTIAC (WWJ) – In what was billed as a first-ever of its kind summit on school safety, Oakland County law enforcement and school officials gathered in Pontiac Monday to discuss how they can prevent another potential tragedy like what happened last November in Oxford.

All public and private schools across the county were invited to the event at United Wholesale Mortgage Sports Complex, where Sheriff Mike Bouchard shared an important message: “you’re not bothering us.”

Bouchard encouraged school officials to communicate any concerns when it comes to potential safety issues, insisting that doing so would not be a burden to police.

“Call law enforcement. We’d rather be involved and work through something and determine it’s nothing to be concerned about, or maybe it’s something we need to be aware of and that person needs some assistance and we’ll connect with our mental health community, or it needs immediate intervention, and we’re gonna do that.” Bouchard told reporters after the summit, which was closed to the media.

Attendees heard from experts on school safety, prevention, school and community issues and law enforcement and mental health resources to discuss various strategies about building safety.

The goal was to learn from the mass shooting tragedy at Oxford High School. Bouchard says districts should not hesitate to get law enforcement involved in their plans on a number of levels.

“If they’re not training with their local law enforcement as of yet, they need to,” Bouchard said.

Collaboration between police and schools does two things, Bouchard said – it lets schools “be better prepared for a situation and it helps familiarize them with each other.”

He says it also helps local law enforcement become more familiar with school buildings, from the layout to entrances and other facilities.

The summit comes a little over 10 months since the shooting at Oxford High School, which claimed the lives of four students – Hana St. Juliana, Madisyn Baldwin, Justin Shilling and Tate Myre – and injured six other students and a teacher.

Many Metro Detroit schools have dealt with so-called copycat threats in the months since the tragedy, with dozens of teens facing charges.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Mike Campbell/WWJ-FILE