NC school protection plan to roll out this week

March 11, 2013 6:45:05 PM PDT
Just weeks before North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory came into office, Adam Lanza walked into an elementary school in Newtown Connecticut and killed 20 students and six adult staff members. One of McCrory's first directives was to his new head of public safety - Kieran Shanahan - who he told to come up with a plan to make North Carolina schools safer.

In a sit-down interview with ABC11, Shanahan said the governor is going to roll out that plan this week.

"We're pretty excited about it. It's a comprehensive plan and it's going to bring together a lot of stakeholders and we're just kind of putting the finishing touches on it if you will," he explained. "I think it'll be thoughtful. It'll be inclusive, and more to the point, I think it will be authentic in terms of helping the school systems and helping people feel safe."

He wouldn't go into detail, but did give us a good idea of what to expect. It will be a comprehensive plan that addresses both force protection and the mental health component, which so many say is integrally tied to the mass shootings that keep happening around the country.

"You cannot have a discussion about school safety without considering the aspect of mental health," said Shanahan. "To try and understand, how do those two fit together? How do we have something that really helps every school, whether it's kindergarten or whether it's a university, to have a meaningful strategy on how to make things safer?"

The interview isn't the first time we've spoken with Shanahan on the school safety issue. When we sat down with him two months ago, some of his ideas raised a few eyebrows.

"It's probably likely that we could use retired law enforcement, retired military," he said then.

He also suggested utilizing the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

"On a highway patrolman's shift, whether having him cruise through the school, literally in his cruiser and perhaps walking the hall from time to time just to have a presence," he explained.

So, did any of those ideas make it into the final plan?

"They're all in the mix," he said.

But Shanahan also says what we'll see later this week will be far more expansive. What we won't see is a series of directives. Shanahan says the plan won't tell schools what to do, but rather offer ideas on what they might do to improve safety - and then help them get there.

"By being a convener for best practices, and by being a resource that's available on a meaningful basis to help each and every school, not only develop best practices in their own school and with their own plan, but then to help monitor them, measure them, and be a collaborating partner going forward," said Shanahan.

Our wide-ranging interview with Shanahan also covered what he's found in two months on the job as head of the Department of Public Safety.

Click here to watch more of Jon Camp's interview with Shanahan.

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