Montrose, COLO.—Montrose County School District RE1-J, Montrose County Sheriff’s Office, The Center for Mental Health, and the Montrose Police Department have partnered to bring the Salem-Keizer System of Assessing Student Threats to the region. The goal of the program is to provide regional school, law enforcement, and mental health providers a standardized process for threat assessment. The kick-off of this program creates a team of professionals—the Student Threat Assessment Team (STAT)—dedicated to creating a path of success for students at-risk. The community is invited to attend a presentation on the Salem-Keizer Threat Assessment System on Thursday from 9-11am at the Montrose County Event Center.

“This program places an emphasis on whole family health,” said Laura Byard, Regional Director for The Center for Mental Health. “Ongoing assessments will help families and students engage with services, break down barriers, and foster a collaborative effort for success.”

This week, professionals from across the region are receiving both Level I and Level II threat assessment training to learn how to complete a threat assessment. In the advanced training, team members will learn how to conduct an investigation and present the findings to the Student Threat Assessment Team. At a district level, trained professionals will be the eyes and ears for the program. In the event of a behavioral issue or indication of self-harm, case information will be gathered and look at the entire picture. Various indicators and questions will help determine the level of threat and work to establish supervision strategies and resources to help mitigate the threat and support the student. At that point, the team will meet to discuss the issues and determine a plan to help get the student back on a path to success.

“The threat assessments are critical to helping our youth and the community understand that the system is there to help support them. This is a community-oriented solution to a community problem. If students do not have the resources or a path for success in school, it is likely that law enforcement will eventually have contact with them as adults. The STAT wants to help work with these children when problems are first emerging to mitigate future issues. This threat assessment model is designed to help protect youth and the challenges many of them face today,” said Montrose County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Ted Valerio.

School District Director of Safety and Security, James Pavlich, echoed the sentiments regarding the importance of communication as he said, “In the past, a student at-risk either with behavior issues or suicidal indicators had the possibility to have several contacts with different agencies—school, mental health, and law enforcement. Each contact is often a cry for help and may not have been communicated to the other agencies, especially during summer months or in the years following graduation. This new system creates a team that meets to assess the student’s individual situation and factors that may be contributing to behavior issues, and creates a path back to success for the student.

Commander Matt Smith from the Montrose Police Department emphasized, “This system and training is a prevention-based model. It seeks to foster collaboration between community stakeholders, which is often a lacking component when addressing threats in our community. The most exciting aspects of this model for law enforcement are the front-end management of potential risks, and the supervision of those cases subsequent to their discovery.”

The program is presented by John Van Dreal, a school psychologist and director of security, safety, and risk management for the Salem-Keizer School District in Oregon. Mr. Van Dreal is an internationally recognized expert in threat assessment and a pioneer of multidisciplinary threat assessment. He has instructed and presented to education staff, mental health staff, and law enforcement officers from more than 300 educational institutions.

The community presentation will be held at the Montrose County Event Center (1036 7th Street) on Thursday, Sept. 12 from 9-11am. The presentation is free to the public and community leaders and organizers are encouraged to attend. Refreshments will be provided by the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office. The event will also be live-streamed on the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page (fb.com/MontroseCountySO).