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West Valley schools, police departments form safety coalition

Coalition formed to focus on school safety
Posted at 6:54 AM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 16:28:23-04

GOODYEAR, AZ — In the wake of the Uvalde elementary school shooting, a lot of school districts nationwide are working towards improving school safety.

That includes here in the Valley.

Several school districts and law enforcement agencies have banded together to form a group called the Southwest Valley Safety Coalition, a first of its kind for the area.

The idea behind it is essentially strength in numbers. The coalition wants as many minds as possible to help find solutions for the security challenges our West Valley schools face.

One of the agencies involved is the Goodyear Police Department.

“We would really be doing a disservice if we weren't doing everything in our power to make sure safety wasn't at the forefront for the students at the schools,” said GPD School Resource Officer Unit Supervisor Sergeant Sean Tyler. “We take safety seriously in the west Valley for our students, and we want to make sure that we're the safest in the Valley area when it comes to school safety.”

He said it all started with the superintendents of Agua Fria, Litchfield Elementary, and Avondale school districts recognizing a need for the West Valley to be on the same page.

Litchfield Elementary School District Director of Safety Sergio Banales told ABC15 the communication component is instrumental to any safety plan, especially when there are multiple players on the same team like in his district.

“Just in our school district we work with four different law enforcement agencies like the city of Avondale, city of Goodyear, Litchfield Park, and the city of Buckeye,” Banales said. “Our effort and our goals is [sic] to enhance cooperation, collaboration, and communication.”

For example, if something happens at a school in Avondale, Sgt. Tyler said his department wants to be able to seamlessly know their protocol.

“We can go and help them and be efficient in that help that we lend to them,” Sgt. Tyler said. “The school districts recognized that they weren't communicating in the same ways that we were. So, there was kind of a lingering question: well, are we truly on the same page?”

The coalition is trying to get as many West Valley school districts and police departments as possible to join to contribute to the conversation of keeping kids and teachers safe.

“We can all have one person at the helm trying to make decisions or find what's out there,” said Sgt. Tyler. “But if we get a group effort, I think we'll find a lot more different resources out there, and really be able to lead the charge.”

The coalition is in its beginning stages and is aiming to hold a summit meeting to plan specific safety goals early next year.