ShareThis Page

Area leaders get tips on averting crisis

| Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
Timothy J. Maloney from the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium lectures local school administrators, emergency responders and rural law enforcement officers on how to effectively respond to an emergency involving a school building or an entire school system. The training held at the Hempfield Township municipal building aims to help small police departments establish a school-based emergency response plan. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Local school administrators, emergency responders and rural law enforcement officers watch a video on weapon concealment during an eight- hour course on how to effectively respond to an emergency involving schools. The training held at the Hempfield Township municipal building was taught by Timothy J. Maloney from the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review

School shooters have no “universal profile,” a former FBI hostage negotiator said on Saturday.

But the shooters often show signs — “tools” — that can be used to try to thwart school tragedies, Timothy Maloney told about 50 school leaders, police and emergency responders in the Hempfield Township Emergency Management building.

“Total prevention may not be possible, but if we are prepared we can mitigate,” Maloney said.

Hempfield officials hosted the seminar, which involved the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio, and other colleges and universities in the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium.

Maloney, a former probation officer, prison counselor and Erie County detective, led the eight-hour seminar, which focused on manmade and natural disasters.

Robert Gerlach, Hempfield emergency management director, said township officials began planning the seminar last summer — months before the Dec. 14 shooting in a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that ended with the deaths of 20 children and seven adults, including the shooter..

Attendees came from Washington, Somerset, Indiana, Butler, Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, Gerlach said.

“We're trying to identify a threat before it becomes unmanageable,” Maloney explained during a break.

He said research shows the following about school shootings:

• Shooters plan their attacks, and others usually know about the plans ahead of time.

• Attackers show some form of behavior that causes concern beforehand.

• Attackers have some level of difficulty coping.

Getting control of bullying is important but more difficult to do now, Maloney said. With the advent of the Internet, Facebook and texting, he explained, bullies don't have to be face to face with their victims.

“It's gotten catastrophic because of the ability to bully 24/7,” he added.

Maloney urged seminar attendees to do what they can to stop bullying.

“You are in charge of that,” he said. “You must change your culture.”

He suggested firm, fair and consistent enforcement of school disciplinary policies. Peer mediation, conflict resolution and active listening — hearing what is said and how it is said — are important, Maloney said

Hempfield Area Superintendent Andy Leopold praised the forum for offering new ideas and refreshing old ones.

“I think it's helpful,” he said. “It's always important to be prepared for a crisis.”

“I thought it was very informative,” added Todd Brant, Southwest Greensburg emergency management coordinator and a borough police sergeant.

John Shingle, a Norwin High School assistant principal, said he liked talking to emergency responders.

“Networking is a good idea,” he said. “To sit down with emergency management and police is good.”

Township Supervisor Doug Weimer liked that so many attendees came from different backgrounds.

“We're all partnering together to try to prevent a crisis from occurring,” he said.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.