Police chief calls for action against school violence in social - WNEM TV 5

Police chief calls for action against school violence in social media video

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A Mid-Michigan police chief says he’s fed-up with school violence.

“Our schools need to be a place where kids can go and feel safe and learn,” Chief Luke Sawyer with the Shepherd Police Department.

In a video posted to the department’s Facebook page, Sawyer said a student’s childhood should be the greatest time of their life, but it’s being ripped away by “pure evil.”

“We think we can characterize school violence or school shootings into a box. School violence isn’t just limited to a debate on guns. School violence is an issue of mental health – of failing mental health system," Sawyer said. 

Sawyer said another issue is the “breakdown of the family structure.”

“We’ve got a lot of kids who aren’t being parented at home. We have a lot of kids who are being left to their own devices. Who aren’t being monitored,” he said.

Sawyer said we also live in a culture that is desensitized to violence.

“We glorify school violence through movies. We glorify these individuals by showing their picture and putting their face and their names on media sites, social media, TV, radio,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer is now calling on the community to take action – together.

“It seems like we only ever want to do something about school violence after an issue happens. It’s just something that’s going to be repeating itself over and over again,” he said.

Sawyer admits there’s no way to make every school in America safe.

“Evil is not something you can put into a box. Evil is not something you can hold,” he said. “No matter what we do, there’s always the potential for something bad to happen.”

Having said that, Sawyer believes if the community does everything in their power to prevent school violence, the chances will be minimized.

The police chief is calling for more control of the mental health issue involving kids in America. He said the mental health system is broken - with lack of funding, lack of school counselors and misdiagnosed patients.

“We have one counselor for five, 600 students. That needs to fix because all of these school shootings involve some component of mental illness,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer is also calling for parents and families to get involved in their child’s life.

“We need to get parents who are willing to parent and not be their kid’s best friend. We need to get nosey parents…parents who aren’t afraid to ask the hard questions,” Sawyer said.

Lastly, Sawyer is calling for more police officers in schools. He said the officers will work less as a “deterrent,” but to develop relationships with students.

“One man or one woman can only cover so much ground at one time,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer said no one person has all the answers to school violence, but if there is more power in numbers.

“If we put all of our differences aside, if we put all of our professions aside, and we realize the end result is we just want the best for kids. What can we possibly do,” Sawyer said.

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