School safety discussed

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February 28, 2018 - 12:00 AM

Allen County Commissioners Tom Williams and Jerry Daniels, with extensive backgrounds in law enforcement, advanced some thoughts on how local schools, and the courthouse itself, might be made safer.
They talked of proactive and reactive measures.
“I’ve thought a lot about the Florida shooting,” which left 17 dead, Williams said. He proposed law changes to permit removal of guns from those processed for stalking and domestic violence, and those having mental illness issues, as well as prohibiting them from being able to purchase such weapons.
The shooter gave alerts, including a post saying he “wanted to kill people,” as signposts that could have prevented the devastating attack, Williams said.
Judges have some latitude to deal with those indicating anti-social behavior, through restraining orders, but those don’t affect hardware they might have or could obtain. Thus said, whatever changes occurred to give responders at all level more approaches to dealing with a potentially dangerous person, “there must be due process,” Williams said
As it is today a judge “can’t check the box” to take away guns and prevent purchases, Williams noted.
Before any proactive measure came about, it should come  through the filter of sessions involving public officials, law enforcement, mental health representatives, courts and schools, he proposed — have all aspects considered.
“And, conversations should be about solutions not what politicians have been talking about for years,” often pointing fingers that others, Williams said. Also, “it shouldn’t be about he NRA or what the FBI did or didn’t do,” rather about what could be done to prevent an incident.
The second shoe to fall would be to have personnel on site to deal with a person, deranged, angry or whatever, who meant to do harm to others, such as has been the case in the recent series of mass shootings.
“Nothing is more important than our kids,” Daniels said, also allowing that public places such as the courthouse could be a target of opportunity in Allen County.
Putting together a cadre of people with experience with weapons and sensitive situations — law enforcement and military veterans easily come to mind — to be in position to intervene were a shooter, or rampaging individual, approach a public place would be helpful, commissioners agreed.
If such as force were to be an outcome — with no specifics yet mentioned, other than, Daniels said, “they should be be cutthroats,” in ability to response to violence — it would be helpful in a consortium of things to reduce chances of a devastating event.
Williams said he was certain there would be law enforcement and military vets who would make themselves available. “I’d take a turn,” he said.
“I would, too,” said Mark Peters, a former Iola cop and now Iola councilman who often attends commission meetings.
If a security force, or other means of dealing with potential “situations,” were to come about, Daniels and Williams agreed the county’s income from wind farm payments in lieu of taxes, and eventually property tax payments, could be used for funding.
Commissioners said earlier they wanted to dedicate PILOTs from EDP Renewables’ wind farm  scheduled for construction in northeast Allen County to public schools. The payment will be $250,000 for 10 years, and then ad valorem taxes of about $1.2 million.

ANY MEASURES taken for ensure safety of Allen County kids, and adults, are in very early stages, and mentioned on the county level for the first time Tuesday.
However, there is a groundswell, initiated in large measure by school children throughout the nation, to keep attention on ways to prevent schools shootings, and other catastrophic events.
Williams pointed out any proactive laws would be within context of the Legislature — “talk to Kent” (Thompson, representative), he said — but plans for being reactive could occur on the local level.

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