New School Safety Task Force set to meet in Syracuse on Thursday

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - After watching students panic in Florida last month, an idea began to take shape in the mind of Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick.

"Whether it is Columbine or Parkland or any shooting in between, the common thread is that there were signs that were missed," he says.

Fitzpatrick is calling together County Executive Joanie Mahoney, Sheriff Gene Conway and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh to co-chair a new School Safety Task Force.

"Part of the process is to make sure we understand what measures are already in place and then determining where the gaps are and identifying the resources and support to fill those gaps," Walsh adds.

Mahoney says there has been one small brainstorming meeting with the D.A., but the first full task force meeting is scheduled on Thursday in Syracuse.

"We're going to have teachers, parents, students, mental health professionals, law enforcement professionals," Mahoney says.

They'll focus on four key areas. 

First, training for students and teachers.

Second, threat assessments...knowing the difference between teenage talk and a serious safety issue.

Third, building assessments. For example, mapping out every school entrance and exit and what type of security is already on site.

"It appears that a lot of these shooters have as their modus operandi false fire alarms, knowing that the students will congregate in an area, easy to shoot them. We have to reassess that," Fitzpatrick explains.

Finally, one committee in the task force will take a closer look at law enforcement's role in schools.

"Do you have school resource officers? Do you have armed teachers? Do you have volunteers who are ex-military or ex-law enforcement? Do you arm them and put them in schools?" Fitzpatrick asks. "We have a completely open mind. The agenda is a completely blank slate right now."

School Boards will decide what to do with the information, but Fitzpatrick hopes to share recommendations by August, so they can be implemented during the upcoming school year.

More Stories

Don't Miss

Trending Stories

Latest News

Video Center