Seventeeth annual Safe Schools Initiative Seminar set for March 19

The roof of a police car.

Release Date: February 25, 2020


Editor's note: This event has cancelled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The 17th annual Safe Schools Initiative Seminar — “While You Don’t Choose Tragedy, You Can Choose Your Response” — will be held Thursday, March 19, in the Center for the Arts on the University at Buffalo’s North Campus. The full-day event is free, but registration is required.

Erie County Law Enforcement Foundation presents this year’s seminar. The foundation set two goals:

  • Enhance school safety planning for law enforcement, school and district personnel, and other first responders and stakeholders through the common language and actions of the Standard Response Protocol.
  • Provide proven methods for planning, practicing and achieving a successful reunification in the event of a school crisis or emergency through the Standard Reunification Method.  

The conformance of these programs to Federal Emergency Management Agency guidance about plain language and the simplicity of implementation has resulted in thousands of schools and law enforcement agencies implementing these programs.

“The annual Safe Schools Initiative Seminar continues to provide an invaluable platform for the [Erie County Law Enforcement] Foundation and our many partners in law enforcement across upstate New York to work with all levels of school personnel to improve school safety and our responses to targeted violence in our schools,” says Samuel Palmiere, chair of the Erie County Law Enforcement Foundation, and the law enforcement coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of New York.

The seminar will be conducted by two leaders of The “I Love U Guys” Foundation, along with a decorated member of law enforcement. John-Michael Keyes, executive director of The “I Love U Guys” Foundation, lost his daughter Emily at the hands of a gunman at Platte Canyon High School in Colorado in 2006. Her death compelled Keyes to begin the foundation and bring his professional expertise to the arena of school safety.  

Carly Posey, mission director of The “I Love U Guys” Foundation, had two of her four children inside Sandy Hook Elementary School when an armed man entered the building and killed her son’s first-grade teacher and a classmate, and 24 others. Her children survived, but the lack of preparedness within the community to respond to and recover from this horrific massacre left a lasting impression.

Keyes and Posey will be joined by A.J. DeAndrea, deputy chief at the Arvada Police Department in Golden, Colo. DeAndrea served as a team leader on the Jefferson County Regional SWAT Team from 1996-2012. He was among the first SWAT officers inside Columbine High School in 1999, and he also led the response to the Platte Canyon hostage crisis and shooting.

“We are fortunate to bring national experts who will bring the lessons learned from personal experiences for how to enhance school safety planning, response and reunification,” says Amanda Nickerson, director of UB’s Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention.

“The Standard Response Protocol is consistent with federal and state requirements for emergency operations,” says Nickerson, professor of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology in the UB Graduate School of Education. “I have had the honor of collaborating with Dr. Jaclyn Schildkraut, associate professor of criminal justice at SUNY Oswego, and a major urban school district in the state to study this method and its ability to improve lockdown procedures for school staff and students, as well as improve their perceptions of preparedness.”

The program is open to all school personnel who deal with school or building safety issues, including grade school, middle school, high school and district faculty, staff (administrators, counselors, psychologists, school resource officers, etc.). Also welcome are school board members; college/university administrators; police officers and other law enforcement officials; first responders; elected officials; and school transportation professionals.

The event’s presenting sponsor is the Erie County Law Enforcement Foundation. The seminar is supported by corporate sponsor Utica National Insurance Group, and its founding sponsors: U.S. Secret Service, Buffalo Field Office; the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention and University Police, both from UB; the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of New York; and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, New York Office.

Community partners of the seminar include: Charter Communications; Doyle Security Systems; SUNY Erie Community College; Erie County District Attorney's Office; the FBI; educational consulting business New York State Leadership Group; and the New York State Police.

For more information and to register for this free event, please visit

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