Conn. Commission Looks to Keep Kids Safe in Schools
HARTFORD, Conn. (WGGB) — The tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School last month in Newtown, Conn. was the focus of a legislative hearing in Hartford on Thursday.
The panel established by Governor Malloy will look at state laws and policies following the tragedy at Newtown.
Among those testifying was former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter who served on a similar commission after the tragedy at Columbine High School. “It is a school shooting, it is horrific, the Sandy Hook massacre is another form of domestic terrorism,” says Ritter.
At Sandy Hook Elementary School, a lone gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon killing 20 children, and 6 adults before taking his own life.
In 1999, at Columbine High School in Colorado, two high school seniors killed 12 students, one teacher and injured 21 others before they killed themselves .
The former Colorado governor says the Connecticut panel has three purposes, understanding what happened to try to prevent future tragedies, and if a tragedy occurs, how to respond, and dealing with long-term healing.
One lesson learned at Columbine he says was for police to immediately engage the shooter where at Columbine there was what he called a contain and control policy until the swat teams arrived.
“And I remember watching an aerial view as the police entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and understanding what they were doing was something that had changed as a tactic, in part we think was born of a recommendation and study by the Columbine commission,” says Ritter.
After Columbine, Ritter says gun show loopholes were closed, mental health issues were more closely looked, an emphasis was placed on bullying-prevention programs and how to look for warning signs for troubled students.
The 16-member panel faces a March 15th deadline to come up with recommendations on school safety, gun violence prevention, and mental health issues.