Joe Wright and Jon Sundermeier have seen a lot during their combined 60-plus years in law enforcement and school security.
Wright is the Lincoln Public Schools Director of Security. He joined the school district in 2013 after 26 years with the Lincoln Police Department, including the last eight years as a captain. Sundermeier is the LPS Security Coordinator. He joined LPS in August 2017 after 31 years with the Lincoln Police Department, including the last eight years as commanding officer of the criminal investigations unit that handles all serious felony crimes.
It’s because of this experience - and all they’ve seen - that they never stop looking for potential threats to the security of our students, staff and LPS community.
“We’re constantly working and collaborating with others in the district, law enforcement and the community to gather information, connect the dots and ensure that our schools are a safe place,” Wright said.
Wright and Sundermeier are specifically national leaders in threat assessment, which is a progressive, forward-thinking method of addressing safety and security. As opposed to dealing with a crisis at hand, threat assessment aims at preventing situations from happening. This is a cutting-edge, planned and thoughtful response to potentially threatening situations. Threat assessment as a process was developed by the Secret Service as a response to incidents of school violence.
Wright and Sundermeier are both Certified Threat Managers through the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, the leading national organization in the field.
Wright was responsible for implementing the LPS Threat Assessment Process shortly after joining the district five years ago. He worked closely with Mario Scalora, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor and world-renowned expert in the field of threat assessment. The result of their collaboration is a planned, proactive and strategic response to reported issues of concern in the school district – with a focus on prevention.
Wright and Sundermeier draw on the expertise and insight of fellow LPS employees to identify concerning behaviors and incidents that may need more attention. This team includes educators, social workers and a district LPS Threat Assessment Advisory Group.
They also count on the eyes and ears of students, parents and the community.
“We’re continuing to build the ‘see something, say something’ culture in Lincoln Public Schools and the community,” Sundermeier said. “People should never discount their instincts if something doesn’t seem right. Tell us, tell a trusted adult at your school.
Wright and Sundermeier also work closely with local law enforcement and other community agencies - which is one reason why Sundermeier’s experience is so valuable. He founded and still serves on the Lincoln Threat Advisory Team, which is a community-based, multi-disciplinary team that assesses and manages people at heightened risk of committing targeted violence. The team meets twice a month.
“Everyone brings their expertise to the table and LPS benefits from that collaboration,” Sundermeier said.
Wright said it’s expected for people not only in Lincoln but across the country to feel heightened anxiety in the wake of a tragedy like the Florida school shooting. Schools and law enforcement nationwide see an uptick of reports about concerning behavior.
Ultimately, Wright said, the Lincoln community needs to know that LPS works year-round, no matter what the circumstances, to ensure school safety.
“People need to know this - our schools are safe.”
Published: February 26, 2018, Updated: December 19, 2018