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Mass Shooting Task Force recommendations officially made to Legislature

Police agencies and FBI organize outside Marysville High School Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, following a shooting earlier. (AP file photo)

School resource officers on more K-12 campus, active shooter drills in schools statewide, and expanding Extreme Risk Protection Orders to minors are among the recommendations that a Mass Shooting Task Force officially made to the Legislature on Wednesday.

The task force, which was formed after Republican state Senator Steve O’Ban’s budget legislation was approved, included members of law enforcement, representatives from Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the mental health industry, crime victims, the state Attorney General’s office, the ACLU and others, was coordinated by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC).

It did not include representatives from the NRA or other gun rights groups, but WASPC Executive Director Steve Strachan expects they will be part of the conversation moving forward in any proposed legislation to come from the recommendations. He says the task force met nine times over the last several months with the goal of identifying strategies and recommendations to prevent mass shootings and identify perpetrators before they happen.

Strachan says the more than two dozen recommendations fall in to four main categories.

  • The first, recognizing the importance of school resource officers (SROs) and getting more of them placed in K-12 schools.

    “Really that recommendation is focused on — can the state provide funding to be available to those districts that need it to add school resource officers,” Strachan explained.

  • The second, requiring a multi-stage threat assessment process.

    “When that students is saying or doing things that should cause alarm — is there a good system to get that information to the right people and to do something about it,” Strachan said.

  • The third, clarifying in state law that Extreme Risk Protection Orders can apply to minors even though they are not legally allowed to have guns, to ensure they also can’t have access – meaning they can’t be in an area where an adult has guns they could access.

    Under that umbrella, the task force also recommends changing state law so that anyone who violates an Extreme Risk Protection Order for a second time permanently would lose their gun rights.

  • The fourth concerns mental health, stressing the importance of having funding for school counselors in every district and making sure students and staff have access to counselors in the event of an attack.

Other recommendations include involving law enforcement in re-entry plans for students returning from expulsion for violent behavior and making having all schools conduct active shooter drills.

The recommendations were officially made to the Legislature on Wednesday and are expected to result in future legislative proposals.

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