The National Rifle Association announced in December the formation of the National School Shield program, which set out to compile a report on school safety in response to the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting. The NSS Task Force released a 225-page report to Congress and the public on Tuesday, with specific recommendations on preventing gun violence in schools.
Former U. S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas headed up the program task force, made up of recognized experts in homeland security, law-enforcement training and school safety. The panel, which operated independently of the NRA, conducted surveys of selected schools and their current security standards.
The task force concluded, among a number of findings, that school security needs have garnered little attention, especially in the medium-sized and smaller schools that typically have fewer resources than larger schools, and that many schools do not have a written security plan. When analyzing school incidents involving guns, the task force found that a properly trained, armed school resource officer proved to be effective, but that most schools are financially unable to pay for that layer of protection.
In calling for better assessments, more training and increased funding, Hutchinson said the comprehensive report includes eight specific recommendations for improving school safety, briefly described here:
No. 1: Training. A model-training program has been developed by the NSS Task Force for the professional training of armed personnel in the school environment.
No. 2: Adoption of Model Law for Armed School Personnel. Many states prohibit anyone other than a sworn law-enforcement officer or licensed security guard to carry a firearm in a public or non-public school.
No. 3: School Resource Officer. Each school that employs an SRO should have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), or an “interagency agreement,” between the appropriate law-enforcement agency and the school district.
No. 4: Online Self-Assessment Tool. An internet-based self-assessment tool has been created to allow any school (whether public, private or parochial) to have secure access to comprehensively evaluate and assess the security gaps and vulnerabilities of each school.
No. 5: State Education Adequacy. Requirement State standards related to school security vary from non-existent to stringent.
No. 6: Federal Coordination and Funding. Either through legislation or executive action, a lead agency should be designated to coordinate the federal programs and funding of local school safety efforts.
No. 7: Umbrella National Organization to Advocate and Support School Safety. Because of the limitations of federal, state and local funding for school safety, there is an important role that can be filled by a private non-profit advocacy and education organization.
No. 8: Specific Pilot Program on Threat Assessments and Mental Health. As part of its comprehensive security plan, each school should develop a threat assessment team, which will work in coordination with mental health professionals.
Mark Mattioli, whose son was killed in the Newtown shooting, appeared as a special guest at Tuesday’s announcement and applauded the task force and its recommendations, according to Fox News.
Read the entire 225-page Report of the report here.
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