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Arkansas School Safety Commission talks about draft recommendations

Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder who is on the committee discusses recommendations.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Arkansas School Safety Commission’s preliminary report of recommendations is due to the governor on Monday, Aug. 1. 

At Tuesday’s, July 26, meeting sub-committees were tasked to bring forward three of their primary draft recommendations to the full committee that would tie into what happened in Uvalde and would allow Arkansas schools to better navigate a similar situation.

Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder chairs the subcommittee on law enforcement and security. Their first recommendation is to have a school resource officer in every school building on campus, not just one for every school.

“We feel like someone that is trained that is armed could have met force on force to prevent this individual from even entering the building or if he did enter at least there were certain points in the hall before he could enter a classroom,” he said.

Helder says another recommendation is for school districts to have a combination of SROs and CSSOs or certified school security officers. He says if a school is able to have at least one SRO on campus and then several trained armed teachers or staff members they can have more protection.

“Then you have true layering and true presence in each building to the tune of one to four people that could respond immediately to a threat, to an alarm,” he said.

Helder says in Uvalde there was time to respond but no teachers or staff were trained to stop the shooter. He says historically teachers have been willing to lay their lives down for children by jumping in front of kids in these situations.

“I think they are also willing or would also be willing to stop a threat when it allows them to stop the carnage and to prevent other children from being killed. I just think we have got to get to that point where we recognize we’ve got to do something, and we’ve got to do it now,” he said.

Helder says his subcommittee also recommends standardized active shooter response training with the FBI’s alert program. Dr. Cherly May is the chair of the committee. She says they are focusing on making these recommendations attainable and consistent across the state.

“Now, our focus going forward is going to be to get these recommendations approved by the full commission…we’re doing this because it’s so critically important,” she said.

The school safety commission’s final report isn’t due to the Governor until October. Legislators are expected to discuss some of these policies during their special session in August.

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