Arkansas School Safety Commission Emphasizes Training, Equipment

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Members of the Arkansas School Safety Board began their meeting Tuesday by reviewing the timeline of events from the Uvalde shooting. A high school student killed 19 students and two teachers in this shooting. It took about an hour and twenty-three minutes for law enforcement to arrest him. “These officers tried to get in first, they were shot through the door from what I understand,” commissioner Bill Hollenbeck said. “And I think that stopped the momentum. Learning from Uvalde makes it clear that some sort of unified training system where all officers are on the same page will respond appropriately to an active shooter and then it’s obviously going to be about immediately engaging the suspect and stopping the threat,” Hollenbeck said. Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder agrees. “From my point of view, we need to have law enforcement or at least trained armed people who can respond immediately,” Helder said. if they have the equipment they would need to respond to a school shooting. “If we expect our agents to go there, which we do, we have to give them equipment to survive to make sure it’s a successful operation,” Hollenbeck said. The commission will hand over its interim report to the governor on Aug. 1. The final report and recommendations are due Oct. 1.

Members of the Arkansas School Safety Board began their meeting Tuesday by reviewing the timeline of events from the Uvalde shooting.

A high school student killed 19 students and two teachers in this shooting. It took about an hour and twenty-three minutes for law enforcement to arrest him.

“These officers tried to get in first, they were shot through the door from what I understand,” commissioner Bill Hollenbeck said. “And I think that stopped the momentum.

Hollenbeck is the Fort Smith Police Chief and was previously the Sebastian County Sheriff.

He thinks it would be best if officers across the state all had the same training.

“Some of the lessons we learn from Uvalde make it clear that some sort of unified training system where all officers are on the same page will respond appropriately to an active shooter and then obviously it will be a matter of engaging immediately the suspect and stop the threat,” Hollenbeck said.

Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder agreed.

“From my point of view, we need to have law enforcement or at least trained armed people who can respond immediately,” Helder said.

Commission members contact police departments and school resource officers across the state to ask if they have the equipment they would need to respond to a school shooting.

“If we expect our officers to go there, which we do, we have to give them some survival gear to make sure the operation is successful,” Hollenbeck said.

The commission will deliver its interim report to the governor on August 1. The final report and recommendations are expected on October 1.

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