By Mekialaya White

WHEAT RIDGE (CBS4) – Coloradans, unfortunately, are no strangers to horrific mass shootings. That’s why a nonprofit in Wheat Ridge says it’s actively working to combat this type of violence: the Frank DeAngelis Center for Community Safety.

The Center was created to bolster school safety training and tactics for mass casualty tragedies; it’s a place where law enforcement and safety officials can have difficult conversations, test tactics, and share lessons learned; both failures and successes. It’s based in Jefferson County, where both the Columbine High School and Deer Creek Middle School shootings occurred.

Its Executive Director of School Safety John McDonald has experienced the heartbreak of this type of violence first-hand. He responded to the Deer Creek Middle School shooting back in 2010.

(credit: CBS)

“It was a remarkable outcome with two students shot that day. The kids came to me in the aftermath of that and said we need to be better,” McDonald told CBS4’s Mekialaya White.

He forever keeps those children’s faces in mind as he continues to prepare the next generation of officers, right inside an old elementary school.

“We created what has become the standard in national training and we train every student in JeffCo,” he said.

“Everybody wants to know the ‘why,’ and in these types of situations, we don’t always get to know that,” McDonald added. Why the ‘why’ may not always be apparent, he’s propelled daily by helping safety officials know how to respond.

“This is something that you said you’ve dwelled on for years, decades,” said White. “How does it feel to know you’re training up this next generation of officers?”

“Incredibly powerful and it’s the most honorable work I’ve ever done,” McDonald replied.

If you’d like to learn more about partnering with the DeAngelis Center, contact Shawna Fritzler.

Mekialaya White