ONLINE UPDATE: Area leaders announce Summit on School Safety

by Kelly Corbett
Thursday, February 28, 2013

With the goal of identifying problems, available resources and long-term solutions, area leaders from New Hanover and Pender counties with gather for a Summit on School Safety to help protect the children in the local community while they are in school.

University of North Carolina Wilmington Chancellor Gary Miller opened the press conference, held on campus on Feb. 28, to share information about the summit.

Wearing a green ribbon in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims along with other area leaders, Miller said the educating and protecting children are the two most important obligations.

“All of us up here watched in horror what happened in Newtown, Conn.,” said District Attorney Ben David.

David said as the person in charge of advising the local law enforcement, he has looked at several studies on the subject, dating back to the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999.

“The take-home message from all of those studies is that we must take a collaborative, coordinated approach, a whole-community response that engages all stakeholders responding to this threat,” David said.

Others who have looked at school violence concluded that action taken must include developing a threat assessment team within a school or school district, he said, noting the website http://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter.

“That’s precisely what we have in mind to do here in the Fifth District,” David said.

The Summit on School Safety will be held on Tuesday, March 12, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the Cape Fear Community College downtown campus. Participation is by invitation only due to space limitations.

Along with Larry Bonney, founding member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Hostage Rescue Team and behavioral analyst, participants will hear from School Resource Officers, guidance counselors and school board attorneys and judges.

Many of those who spoke at the press conference mentioned the New Hanover County Blue Ribbon Commission on the Prevention of Youth Violence, formed in 2008.

“Every one of us understands that our children’s safety comes first,” Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley said.

He said he hopes the summit will bring together all of the ongoing initiatives.

Mayor Bill Saffo talked about how the city of Wilmington, county and beach towns came together immediately after the Sandy Hook tragedy to fund officers in all of the elementary schools countywide.

“This is a true collaborative effort,” Saffo said.

email kelly@luminanews.com

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