CRUHSD asks police chief for help devising security policies

March 21, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — The Colorado River Union High School District is asking the Bullhead City Police Department for its help in shaping any changes to the district’s safety and security policies.

The board on Wednesday asked Bullhead City Police Chief Brian Williamson to explore what would be required for a threat assessment on the district’s facilities. The board, in a general consensus, agreed that details in that threat assessment would be used in making decisions about what safety/security measures to institute.

“It’s really huge that you’re having this discussion,” Williamson told the board when asked for his input in the discussion started by board member Richard Cardone.

Williamson agreed that the board needs input from students, faculty, staff and the community at large as it tries to implement plans to protect the schools from active shooters and others seeking to disrupt the educational process.

“If you don’t get community buy-in, you’re going down a bad road already,” Williamson said.

Williamson said the police department — and possibly other law enforcement agencies — could work with the district on a threat assessment to identify strengths and weaknesses in security, from infrastructure to protocols. The board then could consider possible steps to address the deficiencies. Some of those discussions likely would come behind closed doors, in executive session, to protect specific details of any security protocols.

Board members had a variety of suggestions for beefing up security. Cardone’s original agenda item was to discuss possible use of metal detectors or wands at entrances to CRUHSD facilities. Several board members expanded that discussion

and continued it with a subsequent agenda item to discuss allowing CRUHSD faculty and staff, with permits, to carry concealed weapons on campus.

The board took no official action on either agenda item other than asking for Williamson’s input and to suggest that input from students, faculty, staff and the public be included in the decision-making process.

“It’s very difficult to know when a community is at risk,” Cardone said as he asked the board to explore metal detectors and wands as a solution.

“What it does is make people ... feel that they’re in a safe environment. I think we should really look into doing this.”

Board member Pat Young suggested surveying students, staff and parents, “then have a more serious discussion.”

Board member Kerry Burgess also recommended getting the “community’s perspective.”

“I agree it’s important that the students feel safe,” he said after questioning what the threat level was locally. “I don’t want to minimize that safety is an important issue.”

“I don’t really know if we have a weapons problem or not (within the school district),” Board President Lori Crampton said. She said she preferred to focus on “securing our campuses.”

“I would like to secure the perimeter of campus,” she said, noting that Mohave High School has several access points with inoperable or malfunctioning locks and that the lower part of the campus is not enclosed by gates or fences.

“It’s a great idea to look at everything for safety,” Crampton said. “I’m not sure this (metal detectors and wands) would be my first priority.”

On the agenda item to allow concealed carry by faculty and staff, Cardone said his proposal was to create “a definite deterrent” to anyone wanting to inflict harm on the campuses by knowing that some teachers might be carrying concealed weapons.

“It’s a little bit edgy,” Cardone said. “It’s a little controversial. ... I think we should think about that.”

Burgess said he wanted information from a threat assessment before bringing weapons on campus into the discussion.

“That assessment won’t necessarily address that,” Williamson said, although he added that information might guide the board one direction or the other.

He, though, said he would not do so.

“I’m not really going to take a strong stance on this,” he said. Later, he added, “I’m not speaking as a proponent or as an opponent.”

He mentioned that if the district did allow permitted staff to carry weapons, he would recommend they have more than just a concealed carry permit. He suggested that active-shooter situations are far different than passing an exam and shooting at paper targets.

He also asked the board to consider what guns on campus might do to the district’s risk insurance.

“There’s a lot to think of, for sure,” he said.

• In the only action item that included a vote, the board unanimously agreed to continue to include payment of health insurance in contracts for teachers.

In Hookstra’s superintendent’s report, he noted that the district’s health insurance premiums were increasing, eating up about half of the district’s planned 5 percent pay increase for teachers. The board, by its vote, will cover the insurance increase out of that 5 percent, rather than forcing the teachers to pay for the increase directly out of their own pockets.

• The board announced that the grand opening for the Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse will be held May 2-3.

The grand opening was postponed earlier this month because the facility wasn’t ready for public introduction.

Fieldhouse General Manager Ed Catalfamo said May 2 will be set aside for invited guests and a public grand opening will be held May 3 from 5 to 8 p.m.

The new fieldhouse, funded by a 2016 bond issue supported by district voters, will host three graduation ceremonies among its first events.

Mohave Community College actually will christen the facility with its commencement exercises at 3 p.m. May 10. River Valley High School’s graduation ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. on May 18 with Mohave High School scheduled for 6 p.m. that day. The CRUHSD Academy will conduct its graduation ceremony on May 17 in the Mohave High School auditorium.