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Florida mass shooting hits close to home

Posted on February 28, 2018 by Taber Times

By Cole Parkinson
Taber Times
cparkinson@tabertimes.com

In the wake of the Florida school shooting, Village of Barnwell council was hoping to get some facts about what is being done in the closer vicinity to avoid that type of situation.

Taber/Vauxhall RCMP had a delegation present at Barnwell council’s regular meeting on Feb. 15 and councillors expressed some concern about the events happening down south.

“Yesterday (Feb. 14) was a person that was expelled from school and he had a lot of problems but he wasn’t followed up on. Can you go into their Facebook or that type of stuff to see how troubled (they are)? For instance if somebody got expelled from Barnwell School and said something mean and whatever, is that somebody we could put on a list?” questioned Deputy Mayor Robin Hansen.

With news coming out that the FBI had received crucial information about the school shooter more than a month before the attack, the local RCMP detachment explained there is a program in place to highlight some individuals who may be high risk.

“There is actually a program or a process in place for that. Violence, threat and risk assessment, they call it VTRA in schools, and it’s actually a multi disciplinary team that is actually made up of educators, child and family services, the RCMP or municipal police force in that jurisdiction. What happens is when there is anything that occurs in a school, conflict with a student, troubling comments, remarks, threats, anything along those lines, the school can actually call for VTRA to be done,” said Cpl. Gord Yettman.

Upon getting VTRA involved, one of the factors investigators check on is social media especially Facebook and twitter.

Yettman also added the program has seen to be competent especially in school settings.

“It’s essentially a risk assessment of that student. Basically it’s to determine if it’s a high, medium our low risk. Generally if it’s a high risk, you’ve got everybody involved. Police are investigating and there are different ways you can investigate that, certainly social media is one of the ways. You would go back over previous occurrences with police or previous occurrences in the school. As far as the school’s go, they do have a process in place and it is quite effective,” added Yettman.

On top of school behaviour, the program also focuses on people in the community who frequently commit crimes.
Monitoring and regular checks happen with those specific individuals to make sure they are keeping compliant.

“What we look for is a set of criteria, essentially what we look for is, just say you have a guy living in your community that has committed a lot of property crimes or whatever else. Nine times out of 10, it’s geared towards property crimes. What happens is we can start looking at that gentleman or lady if turns out that person is on court orders conditions. What we do is conduct regular checks on them, curfew checks, make sure they are compliant of their conditions. If they’re not then they are dealt with according to the law,” continued Yettman. “Again the goal of that program is, if that person keeps on committing crimes, you are actually looking at having them held in custody instead of being released.”

Constantly checking in on perpetrators who constantly commit crimes can have effect on local crime too says Yettman.

“It does tend to reduce crime to an extent, especially if you take a prolific offender out of the mix.”

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