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Governor’s task force aims to prevent school shootings

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — Members of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s newly-created School Safety Task Force are taking a proactive approach after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut in December.

The task force, which is made up of teachers, sheriffs and psychologists from across Commonwealth, is charged with coming up with ways to keep students safe. The task force’s findings will be sent to the governor. 

“It is an important initiative,” Marla Decker, Secretary of Public Safety and Chair of the Task Force, said. “We’ve asked them to provide their ideas and we’re going to start brainstorming those ideas.”

Members said improving communication between classrooms and police is one vital way to help prevent a tragedy.

“We hope again to cover every scenario that could occur,” Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor said. “Again we want to consider everything we humanly possibly can so we can be best prepared.”

Other ideas being pondered include the controversial idea of sharing personal records with officers to identify threats. Members are also considering adding armed guards to schools, but are uncertain if that would hinder or help students.

“The task force’s role is not get into a gun control debate. It’s more about keeping our kids safe in the schools,” Decker said.

Whatever the group comes up with will directly affect the lives every student in Virginia. Members also said that at this point, they are open to all ideas. 

“A number of well thought out, common-sense recommendations that are based on research, evidence and data — and not just emotions,” Decker said.

Late Thursday afternoon, a member of the FBI addressed the group about threat assessments in schools.

Decker urged parents to attend the groups meetings, which are open to the public. The next one is scheduled for next Tuesday from 1 to 5 p.m.