A National Rifle Association-backed task force has submitted a written report, calling for improved training for school resource officers and the arming and training of designated school personnel. The NRA's School Shield Initiative was organized in the wake of Decembers Newtown, Ct., school massacre, which claimed the lives of 20 elementary school children and six adults.
The NRA task force's report was presented today in a press conference by former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) who leads the NRA initiative. Stressing that the task force operates independently of the NRA, Hutchinson outlined eight measures that the task force believes will, in combination, enhance school safety.
They include the following:
Training: The School Shield Initiative task force recommended improved training for school resource officers and a training program for designated school personnel that wish to be armed. The model for both, as outlined in the report, involves 40 to 60 hours of comprehensive instruction.
"We looked at the technology of the schools. We looked at the interior and exterior doors, access controls, architecture and design of the schools. And then we looked at the armed officers, whether it's an SRO, which is a school resource officer, to the staff that may be armed or considering being armed," Hutchinson, former head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, said.
State Legislation: In order to permit trained school personnel to carry weapons on campus, each state's legislature would have to act.
Interagency Agreement: The report stresses the importance of a memorandum of understanding between the schools and local law enforcement agencies that details how each will respond to an attack.
Federal Response: The task force says that federal action is critical in the areas of technical innovation and training grants. The report calls for more directed funding for school safety and better coordination between the Department of Education, Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security.
Other aspects of the report cover the need for improved mental health response, threat assessment, and access control. Each school can use an online security assessment tool available here to assess its security against the task force's recommended best practices.
"Right now schools either have to go out and hire an expert or struggle around with local law enforcement to develop their security policies," Hutchinson said.
The NRA has not adopted the task force's recommendation as its position on the issue of school safety. "We need time to digest the full report," the NRA said in a statement. "We commend Asa Hutchinson for his rapid response in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, and we are certain the contributions he and his team have made will go a long way to making America's schools safer."
Hutchinson's team consisted of experts from law enforcement, dignitary protection, and education. Read the full NRA report here.
By David Griffith