Safety First

Evil comes in many forms, and often isn't identified until it's infiltrated a community. But if a community is prepared for evil's unpredictable appearances, good can often triumph -- or at least stop evil dead in its tracks, making recovery easier.

Bryan Krause knows all about evil. He's the principal of Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, where last September a lone gunman took a group of girls hostage, molested some and killed one: Emily Keyes.

In light of that experience, the recently formed Foundation for the Prevention of School Violence turned to Krause as the premier presenter at its first School Safety Symposium on March 1.

More than 300 teachers, cops and education administrators gathered at Johnson & Wales to hear Krause, as well as the Park County Sheriff and behavioral psychologists talk about the Platte Canyon experience.

And despite the tragic loss of Emily's life, the outcome there could have been worse. Platte Canyon was prepared: The staff had practiced crisis situations, and they executed the plan so well that some kids thought it was all a drill -- until they saw the tragedy unfold on TV.

There are other lessons to be learned, though. How to deal with the aftermath of a crisis, including potential suicides, the community's mental health, the strain on the staff, an increase in disciplinary actions against students, and figuring out how to honor the dreaded one-year anniversary.

Evil is inevitable. But with a little preparation, it can be defeated. -- Luke Turf

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun