Air Force, civilian law enforcement agencies collaborate to focus on youth safety

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Air Force photo by Ethan Wagner

Senior Airman Jacob Dent and his partner Ria, both with the 412th Security Forces Squadron, check a locker area at Desert Junior-Senior High School Feb. 16, 2017. The 412th SFS working dog team was joined by a K-9 team from Kern County Sheriff’s Office during the sweep. The operation was part of a week-long focus on school and youth program safety and security here.

Several representatives from civilian law enforcement agencies joined the 412th Security Forces Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., recently for a week of activities focusing on the safety and security of Edwards’ schools and youth programs.

During the week of Feb. 13-17, representatives from the Kern County Sherriff’s Office and the 412th SFS visited Branch Elementary, Desert Junior-Senior High School and the various youth programs on base to perform security risk assessments and offer insights and training in several scenarios.

“I think it is always good to have an outside independent look at our programs, especially when it comes to the safety of our children,” said Lesley Smith, 412th Force Support Squadron’s chief of airman and family services. “We have been able to identify some areas that we want to improve upon to ensure the safest environments possible.”

Smith has oversight of all activities that pertain to the Child Development Center and youth programs.

Included in the week’s events were presentations on cyber-bullying to DJSHS faculty members, the staff of the youth and teen centers, and those in charge of the school-aged program. Desert faculty members also participated in a walk-through of an active shooter exercise.

Smith said some of the highlights of the week for her were the social media presentations – “working with the staff and teens to identify how they are at risk using social media, and ways to prevent their personal information falling into the wrong hands.”

Dr. David Ellms, principal of Desert Junior-Senior High School, said he really enjoyed the partnership between the different agencies.

“They’re working together to provide a safe environment for our children,” he said. “It’s good to hear the different ideas.”

He also mentioned the cyberbullying presentation, saying it was good to get information to the faculty about how to prevent it from their end.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the 412th SFS provided working-dog teams to conduct a sweep of DJSHS on Thursday.

“It was nice working with Security Forces and Kern County (Sheriff’s Office) and their dogs to ensure a safe, drug-free environment,” Ellms said.
While the visit mainly focused on educating staff, faculty and school security officers, Thursday’s activities wrapped up the week with police demonstrations at Branch Elementary school and a town-hall style outreach event in the Mojave Sky Community Center that evening.