FORT DODGE, Iowa- The Fort Dodge community is making changes following four homicides with juveniles. Local law enforcement, the Fort Dodge Community School District, and community members are all coming together to help mitigate future violence between young people.
Superintendent Josh Porter sent a letter out to the district outlining changes for this school year. These changes include:
- Collaborating with local law enforcement by holding safety meetings together
- Appointing the District’s first Director of Safety and Security
- Hiring a Certified School Resource Officer to generate positive relationships between law enforcement and the school community
- Providing Standard Response Protocol training for staff and students
- Reinforcing behavioral expectations
- Focusing on mental health by increasing the amount of mental health professionals in the district
- Ensuring controlled access to school buildings to ensure safety
- Continuing to discourage drugs through their zero-tolerance policy
- Adding vape detectors to high school bathrooms
- Encouraging parents to engage in school activities and provide support outside of school
Roger Porter is the former Chief of Police for Fort Dodge. Earlier this summer, he retired after 27 years of service, six of those as Chief. Now, he is serving as the District’s first Director of Safety and Security.
He said, “A lot of things [that] have been tolerated in the past are not going to be tolerated anymore… [We’re focusing on] making this a very productive year, very productive for the kids, making a good learning environment, a safe learning environment.”
Porter’s history with local police allows for Fort Dodge Schools to have a close relationship with the department.
Police Chief Dennis Quinn said that he thinks social media platforms have contributed to the increased violence between young people not just in Fort Dodge but in the country.
“Our community members deserve to have a place that is safe… so we’ll just keep doing the same thing. We’re just going to keep fighting the same fight and battling it in anyway we can. And I’ll put whatever resources we can to it,” said Quinn.
The School District and local law enforcement are also collaborating with community organizations outside of schoolgrounds to help mitigate future violence.
Paige Williams is the President of NexGen Fort Dodge, which is a nonprofit that was created after the death of Patrick Walker.
“Walker’s [death] was so heartbreaking for us that we just didn’t want that to happen to any other kid that we cared about, any other kid that we came into contact with, even kids that we hadn’t come in contact with. That shouldn’t be the fate of the kids in this community,” said Williams.
Williams said that the community’s support for NexGen has allowed the organization to grow over the last three months. NexGen hopes to provide more programs and resources for the youth outside of school and in positive environments.