Mace’s Lane examines safety plan

CAMBRIDGE — Administrators at Mace’ Lane Middle School are working with security consultants to develop effective programs addressing the threat of school violence. Community forums are planned for March, at which citizens will have a chance to learn more.


Incidents around the nation of attacks on – and sometimes by – students have prompted the planning and studies, in the interest not only of determining effective responses, but also of preventing it in the first place.


“When someone snaps, you’ve missed indicators,” Chris Bodle said on Jan. 29. Mr. Bodle is with Kenjya-Trusant Group, LLC, (KTG) a service-disabled veteran-owned small business that provides clients “with the ‘go-to’ professionals they can depend upon to effectively develop and execute strategies that will help them achieve their objectives,” the company’s website says.


So what does that mean for a middle school on the Eastern Shore?
“We’re ahead of the game,” Mr. Bodle said. “We’ve done a lot of research on school shootings.”
Extensive experience
He brings extensive experience in security matters, gained during his service as a Special Forces operator in Afghanistan and other troubled countries. Fellow veteran Dave Bull and Talbot County native Brandon Potter, who spent years with the government in South Asia, form the team working to advise Mace’s Lane as part of a KTG pilot program.


The program, which they hope will one day be applied nationwide, has already been brought to four schools in Arkansas. Mr. Potter’s local connections led him to Mace’s Lane Principal Jymil Thompson, who invited the team to visit Cambridge.


Appropriate response
There’s more to emergency response than telling everyone to evacuate a building.
The point is to study and determine the causes, or the drivers, of trouble. “Why is there violence?” Mr. Bodle said.


That question, and what to do about it, were discussed with Mr. Thompson and Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley at a meeting on Jan. 28. Local law enforcement officials have also been contacted. Mr. Bodle has reviewed Mace’s Lane’s response plan, and will conduct a table-top exercise with school leaders to test it.


The team’s preliminary visit to the school last week was meant to iron out details, figure the timing of future meetings and events, and to determine resources. As all that becomes more clear, there are more mundane, but no less important considerations, such as, “What’s appropriate for a sixth grader?” Mr. Bodle said.


KTG’s research has found that a middle-school child is mature enough to be engaged with this sort of information. That’s important, because in upcoming meeting and presentations, they will be present and will learn about the plans.


Not political
The plans themselves will address different aspects of the issue – for instance, spotting a troubled child or adult; defining the threat; and determining an appropriate response, which might not be quite what citizens are used to hearing.


For instance, in case of a bomb threat, should the entire school be evacuated? Maybe. But there have been cases in which a threat was minor or faked, to lure students outside, where they were then attacked.


So what is the best course of action? Difficult even to consider, true, but that’s the sort of question these professionals are working to answer.


KTG’s approach, Mr. Bodle said, is not meant to take sides in current social or political views. “We have stayed very apolitical,” he said.
That means they don’t push either gun control or providing guns to teachers, for instance. The consultants will follow the desires of their clients, Mr. Bodle said.


He added, though, that if a client school system advocated providing guns to teachers, KTG would be clear in pointing out issues involved, such as training required.


Upcoming forums
The community forums could take place during a couple of time spans: either March 18-29, or March 25-April 5.


There is no cost to local schools. “We’re doing this for free,” Mr. Bodle said, adding that KTG is looking for government grants that will allow the program, once completed, to be offered free to any school.


For now, the consultants are working with Mace’s Lane’s current resources to make the most of them. “We’re here to be force multipliers,” Mr. Bodle said.


That force is something that Mr. Potter is pleased to bring home to the Eastern Shore, to help protect children.
“Your community, your parents, all the folks around you, love you dearly,” he said in comments addressed to Mace’s Lane’s students. “I’m really excited to get this going and to make things as safe as possible.”


To learn more about Kenjya-Trusant Group, visit www.kenjya-trusant.com.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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