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Conference at MSU aims to identify risk, prevent mass shootings

The Montana Threat Assessment Conference.jpg

Montana State University held the inaugural Montana Threat Assessment Conference on its campus this week.

The conference aimed to educate local law enforcement and educators on identifying potential risks before they become tragedies.

Early prevention, cybersecurity and emergency response tactics were explained by guest speakers from the FBI and Homeland Security.

The conference wrapped up Wednesday with Captain John Pelletier of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Pelletier said since the Las Vegas mass shooting his department has been asked to give 100 talks on the matter.

"We really believe in connectivity and integration and making sure that some of the tragedy that befell our community -- if possible, some of the lessons learned can be shared," Pelletier said.

MSU student Cassie Behm, who also doubles as an evidence technician for the MSU Police Department, said she already feels safe on campus, but the conference helped her learn other preventive measures.

"We've learned that, most of the time, if there is a shooter, it's because they have a personal issue and they see the world differently than they understand, and that could be something as basic as feeling isolated or unwanted, and as long as there's someone that's paying attention to them, there is something that can be done about it," she said.

MSU Police Chief Frank Parrish said the conference is just one part of making sure the campus is safer, and they're already taking additional steps.

"We've increased security at our major events, and we're looking into going toward clear bags and walk-through metal detectors," said Parrish.

"Those are best practices, and it's important for us to be innovators and leaders of that in Montana," he said.

Parrish said MSU hopes to implement clear bags and metal detectors by football season.

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