Oro Valley School Resource Officer program (copy)

Oro Valley School Resource Officer Kevin Mattocks stands in the hallway as students at Wilson K-8 travel between classes.

Randy Metcalf/The Explorer

As promised, the National Rifle Association (NRA) rolled out a school safety plan Tuesday.

In a 20-minute press conference, the former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson announced an initiative aimed at providing schools with more armed guards, better training and recommendations for state and federal lawmakers to approve the proper initiatives and make proper funding available.

Hutchison said the recommendations are not coming straight from the NRA, but instead a group created and funded by them.

The NRA put up $1 million in funding for the National School Shield plan. Hutchinson stressed that the NRA wasn't even obligated to accept the recommendations made in the 225-page report.

Hutchison focused a lot on school safety in regards to armed officials and training.

"Not every school has school resource officers (SRO)," he said. "And there's been a movement to consider armed security staff, which is part of our recommendations."

Besides looking at armed security staff, Hutchinson said the plan calls for SROs to become better trained, requiring between 40-60 hours of training, which would include better weapon retention and a better understanding on how to coordinate with local law enforcement.

While many schools and law enforcement agencies lack the funding, Oro Valley has continued to support the SRO program, which currently posts an armed officer at every public school.

In total, the report has eight recommendations for pushing better school safety across the nation, with Hutchinson stressing there are three primary target audiences.

The first target is the NRA for pushing programs and pilot tests to improve safety standards.

The second target audience is state lawmakers who would have to enforce some of the recommendations made.

The third target audience is the federal government, which Hutchinson stressed would need to increase funding for programs.

The first of the eight recommendations is to create a model training program for SROs that is more comprehensive that what many agencies are already using.

The second recommendation is to create a model training program for selected and designated armed school personnel.

Hutchinson used an example from 1997 where a student walked into a public school and began shooting. The assistant principal went to his truck and got a gun out to get the suspect and the situation under control.

"The key is reducing the response time," said Hutchinson. "Schools are already undergoing that process (of becoming armed) in America without adequate direction on what is a good, a model training program for school personnel."

Hutchinson that plan is not talking about arming all teachers, but instead, properly training those who can take on the responsibility.

The third recommendation is to require more inter-agency agreements be created between school districts and local law enforcement.

The fourth recommendation focuses on allowing schools to conduct a full online assessment to see how safe the schools actually are.

"Right now schools either have to go out and hire an expert or struggle with local law enforcement to develop security policies," Hutchinson said. "This online assessment tool is available to any school free of charge."

The fifth recommendation is to change state education adequacy policies that would require all schools to have a safety and security plan in place.

The sixth recommendation is aimed at federal lawmakers, encouraging more technology and training grants for schools.

The seventh recommendation is aimed at the NRA, requesting the agency push more pilot programs and offer schools with more technical consultation.

The eighth program is aimed at threat assessment and mental health.

Hutchison said plans should be in place for schools to diagnose and deal with mental health issues.

See the attached link for the full report.

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