Task force commits to making NC schools safer

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Friday, August 24, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Officials say there has been a dramatic uptick in school threats and violence in North Carolina.

NC leaders are trying to zero in on what changes need to made in an innovative way.

Law enforcement, education, and criminal justice officials are working together to make campuses safer through the Special Committee on School Shootings.

"No one else in this entire country is doing what we're doing," said Community Outreach and Engagement Program Coordinator for NCISAAC Tiffany Cohen. "Nobody."

Right now, no single agency is tracking on a statewide level how many school threats are coming in or the number of lockdowns.

Officials want a single place for school administrators to filter that information.

People are pointing to the mass killing in Parkland, Florida where police responded to the alleged shooter's home 39 times over a seven-year period.

"They knew about this guy and nobody was talking," said Cohen.

The task force was established after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison is the co-chair.

"If we can come up with something good to save one life, then we've done something," Harrison said.

Harrison has been calling for the Wake County School System to get its own public safety department. The district has more than 180 schools and not all are staffed up with School Resource Officers.

WCPSS security leaders say middle and high schools are taking priority.

The General Assembly did give extra money this year, including $12 million in grants statewide, yet Harrison says there's still not enough manpower to man all the campuses.

"In Wake County, the elementary schools in the county, I send officers by on a regular basis to be seen," he said. "(But do) we need to put SROS in every school? Do we need to do this, do we have the money? It's just a lot of things to think about."

The task force will be meeting a couple more times before making recommendations to the Governor.