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Metro, CCSD police close ranks to ensure school safety in new year

Updated August 7, 2019 - 6:25 pm

Law enforcement agencies say they have strengthened partnerships over the summer to ensure the roughly 321,000 students returning to public schools in Clark County next week are secure in their classrooms. But police still stress the need for parents to watch their children’s activities, both in person and online.

To combat an increased number of guns found on school campuses last year and growing concerns over violence on campus, Las Vegas police teamed up with Clark County School District police this summer to conduct ride-alongs and increase familiarity with one another’s operations, the agencies announced at a news conference Wednesday.

In a new initiative, school and Metro police are partnering with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in a task force initiative that will investigate where guns found at schools are coming from.

“We want you to see firsthand how seriously we take these crimes,” said Capt. Sasha Larkin, leader of Metro’s Northwest Area Command. “We want this to be a really good, safe school year, as I know all of you do.”

As they do every year, police and district officials urged parents to be aware of their children’s social lives — both online and in person.

“If your child has an ongoing beef with another student either live or virtually online, you need to take an active role in that as well,” Larkin said. “Because it’s these beefs that quickly escalate into shootings and, in some instances, mass killings.”

The district, meanwhile, will continue random searches and have its K-9 team sniff for guns in classrooms twice a day.

The school police K-9 team will expand to eight officers total, increasing the number of officers at high schools.

The district also is expecting grant money from the state that can be used to add more mental health professionals and police officers.

Meanwhile, university police for higher education schools in Southern Nevada are preparing for about 85,000 students, faculty and staff to return to school Aug. 26.

University Police Services have invested $3.8 million to add more cameras to UNLV’s main campus and an additional $500,000 for a new dispatch center that will cover the College of Southern Nevada, UNLV, Nevada State College and the Desert Research Institute, said Adam Garcia, director of university police.

Although Metro reports that crime is down across the valley, the announcement follows a school year that prompted significant safety measures in the Clark County district.

Twenty-three handguns were confiscated on school campuses last year. Within the first month of school, a Canyon Springs High School student was fatally shot by a Cheyenne High School student on school property.

“If you see something, you say something,” Superintendent Jesus Jara said at Wednesday’s news conference, encouraging the use of the anonymous SafeVoice tip system. “Please, let the adults know so we can help you.”

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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