Los Angeles County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger have proposed expanding LA County’s School Threat Assessment Response Team (START) in order to better protect LA County schools from school shootings. Their motion will be heard at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors.
The Department of Mental Health created START in 2009 in an effort to prevent campus violence through early identification and intervention of at-risk youths and young adults. START is currently staffed with 10 clinicians who work in partnership with local law enforcement to respond to reports of potential school violence. START has also partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigations to develop a regional approach to targeted school violence.
In the past year, START conducted interventions with 127 students. In the past week alone, however, START has received 63 referrals. Since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, local law enforcement have intervened in credible threats of violence against schools in Whittier, Long Beach, Santa Clarita, Inglewood, Bellflower, Los Angeles, and Cerritos.
“These incidents are a reminder that our communities are not immune to the epidemic of gun violence in this nation,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “Until Congress takes action and passes commonsense gun legislation, it is up to each of us to report potential threats and we need a team of experts in place that can handle these reports appropriately.”
In a motion to be considered at Tuesday’s board meeting, Supervisors Hahn and Barger have asked for a report back from County staff in 30-days with recommendations to enhance START including possible program expansion.