With a very extensive background in law enforcement and additional training for threat assessment and suicide prevention, Michael Graham is more than capable of handling any type of safety alert he receives, including situations of potential campus violence. We had the opportunity to chat with Michael to learn more about him, his background, and what his role as a Safety Specialist means to him.
Hey, I’m Michael Graham. I’m live in Red Bluff, which is a small town in Northern California. I was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, and moved to Red Bluff in 1998. My hobbies include kayaking, bicycling, and woodworking.
My career background consists of 21 years of law enforcement experience. Since the department I worked for is relatively small, I had the opportunity to have several duties throughout the years. Some of those included: crisis negotiator, sexual assault investigator, detective sergeant, non-lethal weapons instructor, field training program coordinator, peer support and public information officer. I worked approximately eight years as a patrol officer, one year as corporal, and twelve years as a sergeant. A lot of my work in law enforcement included investigations of crimes involving children.
I was also a D.A.R.E. officer and school resource officer for three years where I taught the D.A.R.E. Program, which teaches students to respect others and live free of violence, substance use, and other dangerous behaviors.
Lightspeed Alert is a 24/7/365 proactive monitoring tool. Student Safety Specialists, like myself, are looking for red flags that may not be otherwise caught. We’re highly trained to read between the lines and review the student’s web searches and written text to make a determination if intervention is needed.
I believe that many students don’t reach out to their teacher or other school staff members for help when they’re in crisis. From my experience in law enforcement, people in general, do not reach out to law enforcement for help. Many don’t realize the resources for help that law enforcement has access to. Lightspeed Alert gives schools the opportunity to get help for all students when they are in crisis, even if they don’t reach out directly.
As a parent, I want to know what my son’s school is doing to protect him. If I was a school administrator, I would sleep better at night knowing my school district had software in place to get help to a student who is in crisis, and that I would be immediately contacted — not find out days later.
With the beginning of a new school year, we’ve seen an increase in the number of alerts for violence. We see these alerts come through online chats, online documents, and search engines. One alert I received was from a student who was venting about an ex-boyfriend in an online document. A lot of students use online documents as a diary. She mentioned multiple times that she wanted to get revenge and kill him. She was very detailed in her writing and it was easy to see that she was hurt by him. This was an alert where I immediately made a phone call to district safety officials and they were able to intervene.
One alert that had an impact on me was for a 1st grader who was talking about bringing a gun to school. He was talking with another student on a chat platform and made a statement about having a gun that he was going to bring to school. It was concerning because as I went through the chat history, they gave details about where the gun was located in the home, and it was clear that this was meant as a threat to the other student. Our alert software doesn’t just send alerts on suicide and self-harm. It also detects alerts for violence and harm to others. I escalated this alert as an imminent threat, got in contact with the district safety official and they got this student the intervention they needed.
Another alert that came through was for a young kid who typed into a search engine, “How to kill my friend in the least painful way”. This one made me step back for a moment because what they implied was that they wanted to kill their friend, but not necessarily hurt them. I escalated this as an alert in need of intervention to the district safety official and they were able to get the student help and resources.
I enjoy being a student safety specialist because it’s a proactive way of protecting students. We receive alerts in real time and in the event there’s an alert that is concerning, we are able to contact the school’s designated responsible within minutes. I feel that the human review group is a true team with each one of us working together to make Lightspeed Alert an incredible safety tool. I wish this software was around years ago when I was in law enforcement.
I love the company. Everyone I’ve met so far have been very helpful and kind. They have the same goals in mind when it comes to protecting students. I’m proud to work for a company that creates products that have, and will continue to save lives.