The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

February 18, 2013

Keep focus on school, community safety

Region can never become complacent

— We commend organizers of and participants in the recent Windber forum focusing on school and community violence such as the tragedies of Sandy Hook and Columbine.

It’s nearly impossible for law-enforcement, school and mental health officials to forecast and strategize in advance for events such as took place at those Connecticut and Colorado schools. But we do expect our professionals to learn lessons and establish protocols for all of us to follow should such events unfold again – and, unfortunately, they will.

The forum was co-sponsored by Windber’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and the Alternative Community Resource Program, and the object was to talk about prevention and intervention.

“At the top of the list – but necessarily the most important, really – is firearm legislation and education,” Dr. Matthew Masiello, center director, told the approximately 80 people in attendance.

Citing a 2011 Penn State study, Masiello said a majority of Americans, including a majority of gun owners, agree the government should strive to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

We all can agree on that.

We also can’t argue with the assessment of Richland Township police Chief Mike Burgan, who said that improving safety will require the entire community, including schools, police, mental health workers and governments.

Or the conclusion of speaker Curt Davis of ACRP: “What this is all about is simply getting us here as a conduit. Because probably the best ideas are some ideas that some of you people have.

“Can we keep that going so that those ideas turn into a conversation, and the awareness level goes up and the cooperation goes up?”

Hopefully so, because without that, the recent forum would have no meaning.

Our region can’t let its guard down or be duped into thinking the horrors of Sandy Hook or Columbine couldn’t happen here.

 

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