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State effort to focus on school violence

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Crowded hallways
The hallways at Champlin Park High School.
MPR Photo/Laura McCallum

Gov. Pawlenty announced that the state Department of Public Safety will establish a new office to focus on school safety issues. 

The Minnesota School Safety Center will coordinate all federal, state and local efforts to prevent school violence. 

"They'll establish processes for outreach and communication, best practices seminars and training and the like," said Pawlenty. "We've done a good job in Minnesota in public safety, but obviously with the increase in concern about violence in schools, this will be a good step forward and a helpful step forward."

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion says the center will help local school leaders and law enforcement officials plan for incidents. He says they'll also share the latest, most effective strategies for keeping schools safe. 

"We believe that if we foster a sense of community among students, teachers, staff and others, there's less likelihood of violent behavior taking place," says Campion. "Or at least the opportunity is there to detect that potential violent behavior, and mitigate it before it manifests itself."

The center is paid for with a $300,000 federal grant. State officials hired the retiring police chief of Brooklyn Park, Wade Setter, to lead the project.