Georgia governor provides update on state’s school safety measures in the wake of Texas elementary school shooting

Atlanta, GA – In the wake of the school shooting in Texas this week that took the life of 19 students and two teachers, Gov. Brian P. Kemp provided an update on school safety measures and resources in the State of Georgia.

“As the parents of three daughters – including one who is a first-grade teacher – Marty and I join all Georgians in mourning yesterday’s senseless targeting of school children in Texas,” said said in the press release. “Focusing on school safety and improving Georgia’s mental health system are two issues that we tackled immediately upon taking office in 2019. We want to reassure Georgia families today that we have worked closely with the General Assembly and state agencies to ensure our students and educators have secure learning environments. We will continue to do all we can to protect Georgians – and especially our state’s most treasured asset, our children.”

Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency – School Safety: The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency leads school safety training efforts in Georgia in partnership with other key agencies – like the Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC), and the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE).

A comprehensive overview of these efforts can be found here and some are listed below.

▪There are currently 8 Homeland Security Coordinators (HSCs) around the state whose primary function is to assist schools and local law enforcement with school safety. These HSCs are all sworn law enforcement officers.

▪GEMA/HS is hosting the 2022 Georgia School Safety and Homeland Security Conference June 21st – 23rd in Columbus, Georgia to provide training to Georgia law enforcement and education personnel from subject matter experts such as Assistant Chief Steven Driscoll of the United States Secret Service’ National Threat Assessment Center and Dr. Frank Straub from the National Police Foundation’s Center for Mass Violence Response Studies. Currently over 450 local leaders are registered representing 119 different counties. More information on the conference can be found at GASchoolSafety.com.

▪Per OCGA 20-2-1185 “every public school shall prepare a safety plan to help curb growing incidence of violence in schools.” GEMA/HS is currently redeveloping the Georgia School Safety Plan template in conjunction with Georgia Department of Education and the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government. The newly-revised School Safety Plan Guide and Template is slated to be unveiled at the 2022 Georgia School Safety and Homeland Security Conference in Columbus, GA on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022.

▪GEMA/HS developed the Site Threat Access and Response Audit (STAR Audit) for a school system to identify vulnerabilities at their facilities and improve their level of safety. The STAR Audit is designed to give requesting entities a fair and unbiased evaluation of physical security measures and threat response protocols.▪Over 120 Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) trainings have been conducted to 400+ personnel during Governor Kemp’s administration. These specialized trainings identify a true active shooter, examine the history of active shooter incidents, and discuss the possible responses to various active shooter situations. We will also explore pro-active steps that can be taken to possibly reduce the likelihood of an incident occurring.

▪GEMA/HS’s Homeland Security Division Intel Unit assists schools and school systems with threats and ensuring public safety throughout the state.

▪HSC’s have conducted 540 School Safety Site Assessments during Governor Kemp’s administration. These are multi-discipline evaluations of school sites to gauge existing or potential hazards, conditions, or practices that are present. The site assessment takes an all-hazard approach and is based on CPTED principles, best practices, and local response protocols.

▪In conjunction with OCGA 20-2-1185, HSCs have provided additional feedback and guidance on over 130 school safety plans during Governor Kemp’s Administration.

▪GEMA/HS, in conjunction with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and the Georgia Department of Education’s $999,554 FY19 STOP School Violence Grant Program award from the US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Programs, is in the process of becoming the state’s Subject Matter Experts in Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management (BTAM.) GEMA/HS intends to leverage their knowledge as BTAM SMEs to create regional Behavioral Threat Assessment Teams (BTAT) through the state of Georgia. These BTATs will be led by the regional HSC and will respond to threats or concerning behavior that may be considered a pathway to violence. The BTATs will provide assistance and guidance to local schools, systems, and communities in an effort to mitigate potential threats to life.

Click or tap here for the full list.

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