Las Vegas Sun

November 27, 2014

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School District’s crackdown on violence shows early signs of success

Metro Police and the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition presented their latest efforts to curb youth violence at Thursday's meeting of the Clark County School District Board of Trustees.

Capt. Pat Neville of Metro said there was an alarming spike in violence in and around Las Vegas schools about a year ago that prompted a coordinated effort. Law enforcement, school officials and counselors have sought to work together to reach out to troubled youth and their families.

"We decided to look at the schools and neighborhoods that are having a hard time with violence," Neville said. "We developed 'core' schools."

The core schools — there are five in the district — are receiving extra police attention, Neville said. He wouldn't say which schools they are, but each school has at least four police officers on campus at any given time.

School board President Terri Janison reminded the audience of the Feb. 15, 2008, shooting of 15-year-old Christopher Privett near Palo Verde High School.

"Since then, I've been passionate about working with Metro and CCSD Police to improve youth safety," Janison said. "It's not just about punishing a child when they do something wrong. If you don't reach out to them, they will continue down the wrong path and you will lose them."

Since the beginning of the 2008-09 school year, CCSD Police have responded to about 1,500 reports of shootings, guns or fights at local schools, most of which turned out to be no more than rumors, said Capt. Bill Goodwin of CCSD Police.

Twenty-three firearms were confiscated and 15 arrests were made, Goodwin said. For comparison, 55 weapons were confiscated the previous school year.

"From last year to this year, I think there have been some dramatic results," Goodwin said.

Richard Carranza, Northwest Region superintendent, said the ongoing efforts to curb youth violence will involve a "wraparound" technique that will include weekly meetings among counselors, police officers and the families of troubled teens.

"We don't want to be reactive, but proactive," Carranza said.

The Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition is seeking additional funds to enhance its youth violence prevention programs and asked the School Board to give permission for it to apply for a $9 million federal grant.

Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or [email protected].

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