With the start of the new school year, the Arlington Police Department has formed a partnership with the Arlington Independent School District, along with My Health My Resource of Tarrant County (MHMR), to launch a Multidisciplinary Threat Assessment Team (MTAT). The main goal of the MTAT is to promote a safe school environment by identifying at-risk students who may present a public safety concern, assess their risk for engaging in violence or other harmful activities, and identify intervention strategies to assist them in being productive students. The MTAT will review incidents of threatening behavior by students, both current and former. This team will also review information regarding at risk students or individuals and determine when a student requires help before it escalates to potential violence.
In October of 2018, the City of Arlington received the Office of Community Policing Services (COPS) STOP School Violence: School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) grant to assist the department with combating potential threats or acts of violence impacting the educational environment. The primary focus is to identify and evaluate the risk posed by a student or another person in response to an actual or perceived threat or concerning behavior.
In April of 2019, the department hired a School Violence Prevention Program Coordinator who is a Licensed Social Worker. This new position, along with the Youth Services Lieutenant and School Resource Sergeants, will be the primary contacts for the police department. The department’s effort will also include addressing the needs within charter and private schools located in the city.
The threat assessment is an independent process which will occur regardless of whether a police report is generated or criminal investigation occurs; however, in some cases, there may be some overlap depending on the situation. The MTAT process maximizes school and community resources by determining the level of supervision and intensity of intervention required to decrease risks and ensure needed support to address the area of concern.
“The focus of providing a safe learning environment for all students, faculty and visitors is of paramount importance for our department,” said Police Chief Will Johnson. “We are looking forward to further collaboration with the school district and mental health providers to ensure long term successes for our student population.”
“Making our schools as safe as possible is a top priority,” said Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, Arlington ISD. “We are grateful for the partnership with the Arlington Police Department and the number of resources they provide to help our students, teachers and counselors who are in our classrooms every day.”