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Threat assessment training wraps up

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 - 1:00pm
By Heather Latter, Staff writer

Many community organizations took place in the Threat Assessment Level 1 Training Program offered by the Rainy River District School Board and the OPP during four sessions over the past two weeks.
“We had a good variety [of participation] from the district,” noted local OPP Cst. Anne McCoy.
 “That’s to give the opportunity to many district agencies and organizations to increase the level of communication throughout the district,” she explained.
Cst. McCoy said some of the organizations that took part included the OPP, the Rainy River District School Board, the Northwest Catholic District School Board, the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, AbitibiBowater, the local chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association, and Family and Children Services here.
Contact North, Confederation College, the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., the United Native Friendship Centre, Health Access Centres in First Nation communities, and several district communities also were involved.
In total, 220 individuals received the training.
“It’s valuable training to have because it will enable us to respond before issues become a crisis,” Cst. McCoy reasoned, noting the training sessions were free to participants thanks to funding received through the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ Safe Schools Grant.
The two-day training program taught participants how to determine whether an individual who makes threats poses a risk to the identified target or targets.
Teams assessed individuals who already have histories of violence and their potential for more serious violence.
Participants are now local experts at collecting data to help determine the level of risk an individual may pose towards themselves or others, and determine the appropriate response.
In addition, teams now have been trained to address the newer issue of “unauthored threats” that have plagued schools across Canada over the past year.
Cst. McCoy said she received lots of positive feedback regarding the threat assessment training.
“It was a pro-active initiative that people wouldn’t have had otherwise,” she remarked.
“The whole purpose is to enhance a safe school program, as well as a community safety initiative,” she stressed.
The training sessions, which took place in Fort Frances, Emo, and Atikokan, were led by Mark Allen, a retired OPP inspector with almost 35 years of experience.
He was a detachment commander for the majority of that, with the last few years of his career spent with the crime prevention section out of the OPP’s general headquarters in Orillia.
Upon retiring in March, Allen began working with the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response.
“The next step is to develop a community protocol which will help these agencies to communicate to one another and provide resources to each other to help when there is an assessment that needs to be done,” Cst. McCoy explained.
She added the multi-disciplinary composition of response teams developed through the training program will allow student information to be quickly reviewed and shared.
In addition, details of the event also will be able to be shared quickly in order to collaborate using a broad range of expertise.
This collaborative process will respect the individual’s rights to privacy and the safety of all.
Cst. McCoy said there’s a possibility for the participants of the Level 1 training to complete a Level 2 course, but they would have to wait for another grant opportunity to fund the session.

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