October report, part 1

The meeting was called to order at 6:15.  Because of the holiday, city employees were off;  we had 10 attenders.

Our speaker was Jason Matlock, Director or Emergency Management, Safety & Security for the Minneapolis Public Schools.  His department is responsible for outreach, security, and emergency response in the schools. 

(EQ: The MPD statement of expectations from the MPS – EMSS can be found here:  http://www.minneapolismn.gov/police/about/sp/WCMS1P-131412   I believe this directive and the EMSS mission statement below are a direct rebuttal to the complaints in 2007 that some school safety officers were too quick to see students as delinquent with no attempt to pull them out of that behavior)

The mission statement of the department reads: “We are committed to safe, welcoming learning and work environments for everyone in the Minneapolis Public Schools.

To explain the Mission Statement, Mr. Matlock referenced Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, in order: physiological, safety, social, esteem, self-actualization.  (EQ: for a quick overview:  https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html)

Maslow’s theory posits, until a person has satisfied a lower level  need, he or she can’t successfully satisfy the next level.  Assuming  a person’s physical needs have been met, school environment must present as a place of safety where students are welcome, so that they can integrate themselves in the school society.

Safety in the schools is modeled on the “4 R’s”: Relationships (the basis of security), then Readiness, R.E.A.C.T., and Recover.  R.E.A.C.T. is a protocol for handling situations.  It stands for React, Evaluate, Act, Communicate, Take Inventory.  Staff are trained to readiness so they can REACT, and then help the school members recover equilibrium. 

Every building has an inventory of “assets” starting with the Principal and Assistant principal, the staff on a site who are trained in security and behavior, the site specific emergency plan and emergency team, on site cameras and door buzzers, and training people onsite in emergency drills and lockdown procedures  specific to the particular school. 

There are four basic emergency procedures taught:

1) Lockout for when a potential threat is outside the building (CODE YELLOW),

2) Lockdown, when a threat is inside the building (CODE RED)

3) Evacuation

4) Hold in place

The School Resource Officers have been in Minneapolis Public Schools for almost 60 years.  The current team includes 14 officers, a sergeant, a lieutenant, and a Safety Patrol agent.    These officers’ have two important roles: to serve as mentors for students, staff and community, and to intervene when they identify students moving into delinquency.  They are also the on-site connection to the Police Dept. if a threat was to cause a lockout or lockdown.

Mentoring the students is a primary role for officers.  Mr. Matlock is focused on creating a positive “School Climate”, the quality and character of school life.  This is the basis of Maslow’s “Social Step” referenced above, and is a basis for a successful school career.  Many things can negatively impact a school’s climate, some outside the school (neighborhood issues, bus schedules, gangs,  overcrowding), some inside the school (understaffing, physical heat/cold issues, vandalism, lockdowns), and some come with the student (family impact, mental health issues, truancy).  Officers receive training to help them recognize how youth may express issues, how to recognize the issues for what they are, how to deal with a student who may be overwhelmed, acting out, or have something else going on.  One of these programs is called “Trauma Informed Practices”

Additionally, Mr. Matlock promotes restorative practices when working with a student who  is acting out.  Restorative practices give a student a chance to make a positive impact, an important step in building a sense of self-worth and membership in the group.  (EQ:  I asked for more detail.)  Mr Matlock replied that the MPS has a restorative practices program, and a student can be admitted to that program,   MPS also has connections to the Restorative Justice that we heard about at 2-PAC two years ago.  If an SRO is involved with a student who is acting out, the student may be referred to that program instead of the schools’ RJ program.   (You can read the 2-PAC report on Minneapolis Restorative Justice program here:  https://courtwatch2pac.com/2017/10/26/october-2-pac-report-restorative-justice/    )

Mr. Matlock left me several copies of “MPS Emergency management Safety & Security: A Parent’s Guide to What We Do”   This four page hand out covers the items above, some in greater detail than these notes provide.   Contact me at e-quas@tc.umn.edu for a copy)

Emilie Quast, board member

MPD Second Precinct PAC

Minneapolis MN 55418

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