The school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida has school resource officers in the Gem State and beyond questioning their preparedness. While Mountain View High School practices for the unthinkable, school resource officer David Gomez believes they can do better. He says communication is both the first step and the best defense. It is not just communication between parents and school leaders, but also between students.
"We try and act as a community here so that when there are some warning signs we do get ahead of it and check it out," said Officer Gomez. "And even if it turns out to be nothing, we're happy to check it out."
Officer Gomez uses social media as a way to stay connected and keep track of what is happening at Mountain View. He also uses it as a way to educate the public on internet safety. Officer Gomez believes social media grooms kids to do and say extreme things in order to stand out and get attention. While the vast majority of tips officer Gomez receives on social media turn out to be all talk and no action, he is more than happy to follow up and investigate each lead.
"It gives us the opportunity to contact the students. It also gives us the opportunity to educate that student, that parent and all the surrounding students who have seen it. To say hey, you're not as anonymous as you think you are online," said Officer Gomez. "if we really want to hunt you down, we're going to hunt you down and say hello."
Officer Gomez says parents can be part of the solution. He encourages folks to keep an eye on their children's social media accounts and look out for changes in behavior. If you see something alarming, contact a counselor or police.
"Even if we are over-cautious, it's better than having a tragic event happen," said Officer Gomez.
Officer Gomez recommends parents wait to give kids social media access until they turn 13 and limit the number of friends they can have to 200.
To learn more about how Officer Gomez is helping kids stay safe and make the right decisions, click here.