The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)


Sheriff Hood named national youth rep

- By Roger Seibert rseibert@oneidadisp­

The National Sheriff’s Associatio­n named Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood the National Chairman of its School Safety Committee during its conference in Washington, D.C. recently.

Hood, who developed a school safety program in use in Madison County, is now tasked with helping schools nationwide address challenges that include bullying, school shooting prevention, and e-cigarettes.

“I took over after being nominated by the committee,” Hood said. “We want to bring school safety issues to the forefront. We want to prioritize problems that need fixing.”

Hood’s experience helped him devise a school safety plan that is in use in most school districts in Madison County. The school resource officer program continues to grow. The sheriff’s office recently added three school resource officers and now has a total of 13 SROS in Madison County schools.

Hood also initiated the Madison County Threat assessment council. The council identifies, assesses, and mitigates potential threats to domestic terrorism and other acts of targeted violence.

“School shootings present a high level of concern for school safety, along with drugs and vaping,” he said. “Talk to any superinten­dent. It’s a top issue, so we developed a whole school safety board in almost every school in county. It’s a huge asset to have everyone safe from evildoers. I attend meetings every few months to stay current on each school. The program has been offered to every school and only one or two are not participat­ing.”

The sheriff’s associatio­n has informatio­n on its website to help schools stay informed and ready to act. The informatio­n is available at

“The sheriff’s associatio­n webpage has informatio­n on its website inviting people to study advice from its school safety committee. It’s a nice resource for teachers and schools,” Hood said.

The problem of bullying has gained attention over the past several years. Hood believes the best approach is a proactive approach.

“Addressing bullying is monitoring and taking aggressive action, but also educating, intervenin­g, and getting kids’ attention on bullying prevention and getting care for those who have been bullied,” Hood said. “Just one instance of bullying is too much if it’s your kid being bullied.”

The problem of bullying, Hood said, requires a multifacet­ed approach in prevention.

“It could be a whole host educating they talk about that it is teaching where to go, how to report, how to better understand the child behaving,” he said.

Hood also offered ways to prevent cyberbully­ing, or online bullying through social media, on a recent Youtube talk.

“While you may not be able to monitor all your child’s activities, there are things you can do to prevent cyberbully­ing and protect your child from harmful digital behavior,” Hood said. “Monitor a teen’s social media sites, apps, and browsing history. If you have concerns that cyberbully­ing may be occurring, review or reset your child’s phone location and privacy settings.

“Follow, or friend, your child on social media sites or have another trusted adult do so,” he continued “Stay up to date on the latest apps, social media platforms, and digital slang used by children and teens. Know your child’s username and password for email and social media. Establish rules about appropriat­e digital behavior, content, and apps.”

Hood said the presence of school resource officers,

who are trained not only in firearms but who act as mentors to students, deter school shootings.

“When you put an SRO in every school you will cut things way down. They know they won’t march into school unmolested. They’ll meet resistance from a trained profession­al,” he said.

While serving with the Syracuse Police Department, Hood was also a team leader on SWAT detail. He dealt with tactical events like barricade and hostage scenarios.

“I was the team leader person calling shots saddest for the difficult you can get in a lot of trouble if you’re not prepared,” Hood said.

The U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence in a recent study identified 41 incidents of attacks against K-12 schools in the United States from 2008 to 2017. Researcher­s with the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center found the following:

• There is no single profile of a student attacker, nor is there a profile for the type of school that has been targeted. Attackers varied in age, gender, race, grade level, academic performanc­e, and social status.

• Attackers usually had multiple motives, the most common involving a grievance with classmates. Attackers also had grievances with school staff, romantic relationsh­ips, or motives including a desire to kill, suicide, and seeking fame or notoriety.

• Most attackers used firearms, and firearms were most often acquired from the home.

• Most attackers had experience­d psychologi­cal, behavioral, or developmen­tal symptoms. These included three main categories: psychologi­cal, depressive symptoms or suicidal ideation; behavioral, including defiance/misconduct or symptoms of ADD/

ADHD and neurologic­al/ developmen­tal like developmen­tal delays or cognitive deficits.

• Half of the attackers had interests in violent topics including the 1999 Columbine school shooting or Hitler.

• All attackers experience­d social stressors involving their relationsh­ips with peers or romantic partners:

• Nearly every attacker experience­d negative home life factors. These included parental separation or divorce, drug use or criminal charges among family members, and domestic abuse.

• Most attackers were victims of bullying, which was often observed by others.

• Most attackers had a history of school disciplina­ry actions, and many had prior contact with law enforcemen­t.

• All attackers exhibited concerning behaviors. Most elicited concern from others, and most communicat­ed their intent to attack.

Hood also said he had serious concerns related to the use of e-cigarettes and violence among students.

In a recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine, of 28,135 adolescent­s, the survey found ecigarette use and sexual violence victimizat­ion was 22.7% and 10.8%. Adolescent­s who experience­d sexual violence had 1.52 times higher odds of vaping compared to their counterpar­ts who did not experience sexual violence.

The Journal of Adolescent Health in 2021 reported that among 5,657 students who vaped 1,133 reported adolescent relationsh­ip abuse, 775 reported youth violence, 3,157 reported bullying and 132 experience­d all three types of violent victimizat­ion.

“Confrontin­g vaping is a top priority,” Hood said. “Moving forward we are finding more and more deadly drugs in e-cigarettes. It’s not just nicotine or marijuana put into vaping.

There’s definitely a correlatio­n between violence and vaping.”

Hood warned of the illicit substances in e-cigarettes.

“The problem with all illegal drugs, including e-cigarettes, is you don’t know what’s in them,” he said. “As always if there’s a demand there will be a supply, no matter how dangerous it is to its users.”

 ?? FILE PHOTO ?? Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood speaks at a previous event.
FILE PHOTO Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood speaks at a previous event.
 ?? PHOTO PROVIDED ?? Aeryn Mitchell and Sheriff Todd Hood at the Oneida YMCA.
PHOTO PROVIDED Aeryn Mitchell and Sheriff Todd Hood at the Oneida YMCA.

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