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Grant to Expand Restorative Interventions

The MPD will partner with the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) to train restorative crisis intervention teams in each high school. The new effort comes after the MPD secured a $250,000 U.S. Department of Justice STOP School Violence grant.

Madison police officers are trained to strive for the ‘BPR’---‘best possible resolution’—whenever responding to a call. A corollary challenge to this mantra is to having officers think out of the traditional boxes of handling an issue through a ticket or an arrest; and craft a response with a lens toward restorative justice outcomes. Thus, this grant will affirm and enhance our options in discerning the “BPR” in any given school-based conflict(s), knowing that our attempts to collaborate with our MMSD partners will reach more kids and result in redirecting behavior that may have otherwise resulted in a criminal justice referral or sanction,”
Chief Mike Koval said.

The U.S. Congress created the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act of 2018 to help local governments develop school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams with school law enforcement personnel.

“School safety is every district’s top priority, and it relies on our proactive sytems and protocols, as well as the strength of our school communities,” Safety Coordinator Joe Balles said. “Through this grant, we’ll be able to do more critical work on building relationships and strong school climates.”

Balles says the district is excited to work with the MPD developing and implementing restorative critical response teams that will respond to threats through coordinated training that is based on a model of respect, responsibility, and relationship-repairing.

The plan is get families, schools, and communities working together to create environments that foster healthy development in students while strengthening their connections to schools. The Centers for Disease Control has found school violence is greatly reduced when students feel connected. Teams will also train on after-action procedures when student behavior rises to a level of a serious threat.

The grant will add to the district’s critical safety work, including retraining staff on safety procedures and emergency protocols and making upgrades to our facilities, including locks, cameras and phone systems.

A report developed for the U.S. Department of Education for the Oakland California Unified School District’s found a similar program implemented in that district reduced school suspensions by one-half over a three-year period. The district’s demographics are similar to those at the MMSD.

This project will focus on specialized training sessions for dealing with students who are having mental health crises. Team members will also learn how best to provide support to the student body in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, as well as over the long term.

The grant will fund a project coordinator who will lead training for each school-based team, so that every building will have a highly trained unit whose members can respond to high threat level incidents.

The program’s goal is to reduce violence, and improve support for all students and staff members. It will also incorporate assistance from existing partners, such as the County Youth Court and MMSD Restorative Practices Team.