RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WBTW) – A state criminal justice panel is urging more police training, building vulnerability assessments and school violence data to help make North Carolina’s K-12 schools safer.
A special committee within the Governor’s Crime Commission released its report Thursday, with more than 30 recommendations addressing school safety following last February’s school shootings in Florida.
The panel of law enforcement, court and local government officials and nonprofit leaders didn’t recommend any broad gun-control legislation. But it did ask lawmakers to create a method for a court to order guns be taken temporarily from people determined to be dangers to themselves or their communities. The report also seeks more emphasis on putting police officers in elementary schools.
The legislature approved school safety provisions last year. House members held school safety meetings statewide last fall.
According to a press release from the Office of the Governor, Roy Cooper, the recommendations in the report include:
- More school resource officers (SROs) in schools.
- Enhanced mental health training for SROs.
- Train SROs to teach schools how to respond to an active shooter crisis.
- Require vulnerability assessments of schools to identify ways to make school buildings safer, including placement and use of security cameras and alarm systems.
- Require local schools, law enforcement and emergency responders to work together on active shooter drills.
- Support multi-disciplinary threat assessment teams (including SROs or law enforcement) to meet regularly, share information and discuss possible threats to school safety.
- A statewide tip line or application for reporting threats to schools.
- Improve data collected on incidents of school violence.
- Fund the Governor’s budget requests for more mental health personnel and training for schools.
- Train law enforcement and educators to communicate more effectively about school threats.
- Develop Gun Violence Protection Orders to provide a legal process to temporarily remove guns from a dangerous individual.
Department of Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks requested the Governor’s Crime Commission to create the Special Committee on School Shootings following the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and other school shootings, the release says. The special committee was announced in April 2018, and includes “sheriffs, juvenile justice experts, court officials, educators and other experts.” The committee is chaired by Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger and former Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison.
“I want to thank the members of the committee and Governor’s Crime Commission staff for their work on this most important issue,” Hooks said in the release. “Making our schools safer has been and will continue to be a high priority for our department.”
“When parents send their kids to school they expect them to be out of harm’s way, and we owe it to these kids and their families to make sure our schools are safe environments for learning,” Gov. Cooper said in the release. “I appreciate the work of this committee and I look forward to continuing to work with them as well as other parents, law enforcement officers and educators to push for safer schools.”
“I can think of nothing more important than safeguarding the lives of our children,” said Robert Evans, chairman of the Governor’s Crime Commission, in the release.
The full report from the NC Special Committee on School Shootings can be read here.