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School safety panel calls for resource officers in every NC school

February 8th, 2019

— To improve school safety, North Carolina schools needs to ramp up training for law enforcement and educators, improve physical security at schools, gather better information about potential threats, and invest in more mental health support for schools, according to a state panel formed in the wake of a mass shooting at a Florida high school a year ago.

The Special Committee on School Shootings, part of the Governor’s Crime Commission, presented its final report and 33 recommendations to Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday.

“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,” Cooper said in a statement.

Led by former Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison and Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger, the committee was formed after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people.

“We feel like we can stop it before it happens. That’s the purpose of this,” Harrison said. “Can we all work together – family, school personnel, more counselors, anybody that we can get to speak out to – prevent something from happening.”

Among the recommendations was funding for school resource officers at every school statewide – or at least at every middle school and high school, with three or four elementary schools sharing the services of one officer. The panel also called for extensive SRO training, including mental health training, so that the officers can teach their schools how to respond to a gunman and limit casualties.

More active shooter drills are needed, and schools need to be “hardened” as they are built or renovated by adding cameras, alarms and other security measures to reduce the ability of a gunman to get inside, according to the report.

Other recommendations include the following:

  • More state funding for school nurses, counselors and psychologists to improve mental health capabilities
  • A statewide tip line or cellphone apps to alert local law enforcement immediately to a pending school threat
  • Train school personnel and law enforcement on the requirements of student privacy laws
  • Authorize gun violence protection orders to allow courts to temporarily remove guns from someone deemed a threat
  • Improve the collection and sharing of data on school violence, including consistent definitions
  • Develop model policies for searches at schools, including for drugs
  • Create a safe schools certification program

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