Law enforcement, mental health experts hold school threat prevention forum

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CENTER POINT, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa authorities are hoping to prevent school shootings by planning ahead. A group, including law enforcement and mental health providers, came up with a "School Threats Prevention Resource Guide."

It's a guide passed onto law enforcement and schools in northern Iowa of what to do if there is a threat, citing Iowa statutes and national studies. Law enforcement shared that guide with the community at Center Point Urbana High School Wednesday.

Linn County Sheriff's deputies, resource officers and even an Iowa U.S. attorney came out to Center Point Wednesday to answer that question for families.

The guide includes FBI profiles on what many shooters have in common, the warning signs parents, teachers and even classmates can be on the look out for. The research shows that school shooters often have been planning their attack and have shown many warning signs, but people sometimes don't know what to do.

"Everybody needs to understand a couple things: there are resources available for kids in need, folks that are showing threatening behavior and it's okay to reach out," said Northern District of Iowa U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan.

"We have that happen frequently when maybe a child is displaying concerning behaviors or again they're starting to see patterns that aren't typical for the child," said Foundation 2 Mobile Outreach Program Coordinator Jessica Copley. "People reach out and say what's are next step? What do we do?"

Foundation 2, has a suicide prevention hotline, operates a mobile crisis unit and coaches adults on how to get young people who are struggling help. The non-profit said children and teenagers whose behaviors change, like they start sleeping more or less, their friend group suddenly changes, or they start isolating themselves might really need help. Copley suggested reaching out to the child's pediatrician, school counselors and community resources and to keep asking for help until things improve.

"If they're seeing a student that is having difficulty, that does have a ripple effect. People can be fearful of that. That's why the connections are so important to tell people that can step in and intervene," said Copley.

Businesses or organizations who would like to have trainings on how to prevent and respond to an active shooter threat can contact the Linn County Sheriff's Office.