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School Safety Task Force Publishes Recommendations for School Shooting Prevention and Intervention

John Smith

The Onondaga County School Safety Task Force is planning ahead for a day they hope never happens… an active school shooter situation.  They’re offering a report which suggests crisis prevention and intervention for local school districts. 

Law enforcement and government officials from the County and the City of Syracuse have worked together over the past five months with students, parents and teachers to create this research-based plan.  The areas of focus include security enhancements, response training for students and teachers and mental health education.  District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says the main takeaway from this collaboration is threat assessment.

"We have to have a system in place where students who are a danger to themselves and others are identifed in a way that assists that student to get help, that doesn't allow that student to get into a situation such as Nikolas Cruz, whose life was ruined and who ruined 14 other lives and families." 

Fitzpatrick says the diverse group was unanimous about not arming teachers with guns.  He explains that teachers who carried firearms during school attacks in the past were seriously injured for being mistaken as the shooter.  West Genesee Teachers Association President, John Mannion says teachers did not sign up for a career to protect children from bullets.

"Something changed in Parkland, and I had teachers come up to me that week and say I want to be trained. And the parents of these kids want their teachers trained. And we will be trained.  Teachers will protect your children, but they will not protect them with a firearm in their hands."

Credit Cameron Tirado / WAER News
District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick gives opening remarks about how the Onondaga County School Safety Task Force came to fruition.

Some other main points in the plan include creating 3-D images of the school buildings, allowing the public to submit anonymous tips via the Tips 411 app, and making sure staff knows first aid.  Sherriff Gene Conway wants to implement armed school resource officers with State funding.

"And sadly, we are here in August and we still don't have any kind of support coming out of our (State) Legislature, but hopefully that will change. Because we feel, again, very strongly that financing an armed school resource officer should not be an impediment for that person being in that school." 

The School Safety Report is now available to the public and being distributed to school districts. Click here to read the report.