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Institute for Public Management & Governance

Cutting Edge Research, Community Engagement, and Performance Enhancement

Community Training:  Stopping School Shooting; A Different Approach.  This initiative is a hands-on training program that seeks to supplement current school safety efforts now ongoing.  Adapted from the FBI’s Counterrorism model, the approach herein suggested calls for an ongoing and rigorous “facilitated self-assessment” to conducted by those with the greatest stake in keeping THEIR school safe – the school employees.  The recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, where the shooter was able to enter the school despite the fact that safety protocols were in place and that training had been conducted, underscores the need for this type of initiative in all of our schools.

Two Texas Troopers light a candle at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Jae C. Hong/AP

Community Assistance:  Strategic Planning Assessments.  This initiative will enable the Directors of select government agencies in the Inland Empire and the Coachella Valley to improve their performance and better serve their constituents.   The project will utilize CSUSB faculty and graduate students to conduct an in-depth assessment of the strategic plans developed by the selected agencies to determine/validate the quality of the strategic plans, to assess the likelihood that the plans will achieve their intended outcome, and to identify issues suggestions for improvement. When completed and reviewed in a collaborative setting, agencies will have a renewed ability to produce outcomes that will make a difference in the lives of the people they serve. 

Non-Credit Program Offering:  Transformation.  The RIPMG and CEGE are discussing an Initiative to develop a non-credit executive-level training program for government executives and senior level managers.  The program will be entitled “Agency Transformation; The Emerging Leadership Requirement”.  This four-course program adapts traditional strategic planning and performance training by integrating it with the current literature on agency transformation and on the growing public demand for government reform.  The project would include a team of four CSUSB faculty as the core development/instruction group who will work as a team to deliver one course every three months, thereby permitting the program to completed within one year. 

Stopping School Shootings:  Whose Job Is It?  

Thomas McWeeney, Director 
Institute for Public Management and Governance 
January, 2023

For the past several years, I have been advocating the use of a prevention model for the school shooting problem that is very similar to the one I helped develop and implemented for the FBI. Though the model has evolved greatly since it was first presented to the FBI Director, it set in motion a proactive approach to counterterrorism that has enabled the FBI to prevent a recurrence of the horrific events that occurred on September 11, 2001.   

I strongly believe that the model can be a useful tool in preventing school shootings.  The model and approach require an honest assessment, by school officials and employees, of all the vulnerabilities in each school, a public sharing of that assessment, and a commitment to use all available resources to address every known vulnerability.  But after three years of discussing this approach with several school district officials, briefing the approach to a national and international law enforcement conference, and seeking to gain support from national and local foundations, we realized that solving this problem will take a kind of moral and intellectual courage on the part of our public officials that appears to be in short supply today.  

Though it may be difficult for those not directly engaged in the issue to understand, creating a fortress around each of the 360,000 schools in the United States – even if feasible – is not the answer.  As was the case with terrorism, there are two things that must be kept in mind.  First, as horrific as the shootings have been, there continues to be a very low likelihood that YOUR school will be the next victim.  I refer to this as a “low probability, high consequence” problem -- one in which the likelihood of the dreaded incident occurring at YOUR school is very low, but if it does occur, the consequences would be unthinkable.  Strategies to address this type of problem require a sustained effort and a total commitment of all concerned.  But maintaining a sustained effort in the face of a threat that is unlikely to materialize is a very difficult challenge for most of us. 

The second issue that links the solutions that worked for the terrorism threat to potential solutions to the school shooting threat is the need to be totally candid about the nature of the threat and our current vulnerability.  The more intangible vulnerabilities, such as inadequate intelligence, poor communication, unreliable partnerships, and the inability to continually monitor and improve these vulnerabilities, were found to be among the most significant FBI vulnerabilities prior to 9/11.  Only after the 9/11 attacks were these vulnerabilities acknowledged and addressed by the FBI.  Similarly, we presume that the schools which have been recently attacked are now finding ways to address these and other vulnerabilities.  

Over the past few years, we have spoken with several school employees that identified similar unaddressed issues.  While school districts have spent millions of dollars improving physical security and installing expensive technical systems, the horror continues. Several initiatives that would reduce the likelihood of such tragedies continue to be only minimally addressed.  The causes of the tragedies surprise no one:  a disturbed young man whose troubles were widely known, the lack of sufficient mental health support, the ease with which guns can be taken inside the school, the inattention of school officials, and the inability to collect and process available intelligence that may be relevant to the shooter’s home, from people who knew the shooter, and/or from people in the larger community.   These vulnerabilities make the exclusive reliance on “hardening” the school buildings extremely foolhardy. The starting point in addressing vulnerabilities is a frank discussion...

The Institute conducts joint research projects with other universities and engages in community, public, and private partnerships. Read more about these initiatives on our Programs page.  

Institute Director

Tom McWeeney

Dr. Thomas McWeeney