April 20th is not just “Weed Day”
Reducing the risks schools and colleges face on “April 20th”
The date April 20th predominately is known as the “Great American Smoke Out” or “Weed Day” and this day with these activities have usually caused heightened risk levels on most middle school, high school, and colleges/universities. However, in order to have a successful risk mitigation plan in place it is first necessary to recognize what other significant events took place on or around 4/20:
- Adolf Hitler’s birthday is 4/20
- The Columbine HS tragedy took place on 4/20/99
- 19 men, women, and children die in 1914 in the Ludlow Massacre
- 20 Jewish Children are killed in the basement of a concentration camp school in 1945
- Active shooter event at the Johnson Space Center in 2007
- The Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people took place on 4/19/95 and that date was symbolic to the main person responsible as he referenced his outrage of the Waco, Tx standoff where 76 people died on 4/19/93
The Current Risk Climate
Our current risk climate around the world, and especially in the U.S. is elevated due to the Stoneman H.S. tragedy, and groups and/or individual representatives of groups willing to use acts of violence to support their cause. Planning attacks/acts of violence on a symbolic date is nothing new to groups or individuals seeking attention for their cause.
Risk Reduction Strategies
The following are general risk reduction strategies for schools, colleges, universities with students ages 12/13 and up, and currently do not have specific high risk incidents on their radar:
- Convene your main group that deals with safety and security on campus in the next two weeks or so. Stress to this group that your “4/20” risk mitigation plan will not deal only with the risk of students/outside campus individuals being under the influence of marijuana (although for most this hopefully will be the only “4:20pm on 4/20” type incidents you may have to face). Also stress that 4/20 is not the only day you will be planning for, as a sound strategic plan will at least identify risk mitigation activities on 4/18 (Tuesday) through 4/21 (Friday). Note: If you have a current elevated risk climate due to past incidents this meeting would require starting a sub-plan development as to how you will mitigate your concerned risk within your “4/20” plan.
- During the initial meeting begin planning on how/when you will increase supervision in your areas and times of vulnerability for this “4/20” time period. It would also be proactive to go through your current crisis response and after crisis response plan just to make sure nothing needs updating.
- Invite local law enforcement (if not on campus already) to meet with your group to discuss any elevated trends of concern they may or may not have for the local areas outside of campus.
- If you have a “student of concern” list, and/or team responsible for S.O.C.’s makes sure that routine status checks are done at least a week prior to the week of 4/20. Make sure those conducting the status check’s review warning signs of a potentially violent/self-harm/under the influence individual prior to status checks, and any safety plan updates of concern are brought forward to the main team.
- Make sure your front desk/facility personnel know who and why and for what good reason detailed building floorplans are being shared with anyone. Report any “odd” requests immediately to local law enforcement.
- Make sure some form of social media threat monitoring is taking place however you currently do this. Make sure any type of social media indirect or direct threats are shared with local law enforcement.
- Educate. Educate. Take 10-15 minutes to educate your entire faculty and staff on the need for enhancing safety by enhancing their awareness levels and reporting times. Educate students on the need for increased awareness and how to report a concern (mentioning 4/20 is not necessary). Educate parents (Middle/School and High School) on the need to report any concerns, the work you have done on drug awareness and prevention, and the increased awareness/supervision you will be putting in place (defining dates is not necessary). Last but not least, educating key areas outside your campus is necessary along with providing them a way to reach you in case of a concern, and your increased presence/supervision over the next “few weeks”.
- Day of: On 4/19-4/20-4/21 there is no such thing as too much supervision and too much of an adult and law enforcement (depending on risk levels/school culture) presence during these days. Your plans are in place, and all that is left is to execute them to the best of your ability. Make sure you are getting immediate push alerts from local and national news outlets just in case some event will potentially impact your campus or those traveling from/to your campus.
- Call if you have any questions. Between now and then if you have any specific concern questions not addressed above please call us so we can be of assistance. Regardless of whether or not you're a current client we will be glad to help.