Expert: Mental detectors -- not metal detectors -- needed to stop school violence

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Kenneth Trump, a national school and safety expert, has testified before Congress on school security issues on four separate occasions.

He has provided forensic analysis on school safety litigation and analyzed, on scene, the highest profile active shooter cases.

He does not believe that metal detectors are the answer to stopping school shootings.

"You have to evaluate the cost benefit of having metal detectors, and metal detectors don't provide a guarantee in a school security setting as they would at an airport," Trump says.

Most school districts cannot afford the high cost to buy metal detectors, let alone make sure they are staffed properly, which, he says, would be anytime the school was open, including for after school activities and during athletic events.

But, of greater importance, Trump says his research shows there are more effective methods.

"Are we going to invest our resources in other methods such as school resource officers, counselors, prevention programs, or are we going to invest in a metal detector program that presents a facade of security but in reality is like going through the motions rather than having meaningful impact," he said.

After years of investigating school shootings, Trump says, the conclusion is often the same, "We can look back and find that there were warning signs when people had different pieces of the puzzle, but they never came together to get the whole picture."

And, Trump says, it's the prevention programs and developing the relationships between students, teachers, parents and administrators that can be the real deterrent.

"The reality is we need more mental detectors rather than metal detectors. We need to have the relationships, people who are going to see deteriorating behaviors and warning signs from a kid."

He also believes it is important that parents have a conversation with their children; they should ask them if they know what to do if they see someone who may have a gun in a backpack; or, for older students, what they would do if they noticed someone who was developing into a threat.

Trump says it's up to schools, through prevention programs, to create a culture in which students are comfortable coming forward and confident that a teacher or administrator in the school would act on any information they may bring to them.

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