OSHKOSH, Wis. — Just days after 19 children and two adults were killed by a gunman at an elementary school in Texas, law enforcement officials from all over the country are attending the Active Threat Conference in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
The event is coincidentally happening just days after the tragedy, as our nation mourns the loss of those innocent lives.
"It certainly puts an exclamation point on things. It reinforces the need for things like this," said Lt. Jeff Gonzalez with the Germantown Police Department.
For many investigators at the conference, there's a heightened focus on making sure every person in every community understands their role in preventing things like school shootings.
"Don't assume that the police already know. The police, just like everyone, are tasked. Don't just assume," said Gonzalez.
One way the State of Wisconsin is helping individuals in every community do their part is with the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of School Safety (OSS) Speak Up, Speak Out Resource Center. That's a safety tool providing anonymous tip lines to Wisconsin schools.
The DOJ tells TMJ4 News that 51 tips related to "planned school attacks" have been reported since the program launched in September 2020. Lt. Gonzalez said that number shows just how important these tools can be.
"There's a potential of 50 tragic incidents that have been prevented by those services, so it's vitally important that that continues," said Gonzalez.
UW-Oshkosh Police Captain Chris Tarmann agreed with Lt. Gonzalez.
"People get hung up in this, I don't want to bother the police, they don't have time for this," said Tarmann. "Call us. You're not going to bother us. This is our job."
For Lt. Gonzalez, the main takeaway during the conference is, despite hesitations, everyone in the community can make a difference when it comes to preventing tragedies.
"If you are at all impacted by the news that has happened just this week and the tragic events, if you are at all impacted by that and it strikes you like it strikes all of us, just taking the time to do your part to maybe prevent an event like that from happening here, I guess is the biggest take away."