BEING PREPARED: Iowa School Safety

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In light of the shooting in Connecticut, Iowa officials are asking schools to review their safety plans.

Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management say schools have a new tool to help them gauge the effectiveness of their safety plans.

The School Safety Guide went out to hundreds of schools in early 2012; it covers a variety of emergencies, including how to respond to a gunman.

Homeland Security is also working to offer what are called, active shooter classes to law enforcement and other first responders, which first came about after the Columbine shooting. More than 41,000 first responders have taken the course over the past nine years.

Political and education leaders in other states have talked about arming teachers, and having them take a similar course to better protect students, but Governor Branstad and his Homeland Security Chief  Mark Schouten are not in favor of that move.

“The difficulty in this is that the first responders are trained to do this business. They do it, and they do it carefully, and they do it correctly. That’s a difficult question of whether we should train our teachers who primary mission is to teach…to be shooters.” Schouten said.

For the time being they are both urging administrators to check for how their main entrances are designed and review their new School Safety Guide.

The Connecticut shooter apparently broke through glass near the front door so he could force his way inside the school.

There have also been calls for stricter gun laws across the country; Branstad noted that Connecticut has among the nation’s strictest gun-control laws, so such measures “don’t necessarily solve the problems.”

Instead, he says we should focus on preventative measures like not approving firearm licenses for Iowans with histories of mental illness.


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