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Select Committee on School Safety, Security Hears from Experts on Comprehensive Approach to Keeping Children Safe, Day Says
As chairman of the House Select Committee on School Safety and Security, Rep. Gary Day led an April 18 public hearing to learn more about current policies and practices from the state’s top education, law enforcement, military and emergency management officials, along with a local police chief and district attorney. Additional hearings are set for May 9 and June 6.
– The House Select Committee on School Safety and Security heard from the state’s top education, law enforcement, military and emergency management officials, along with a local police chief and district attorney, during its first hearing at the state Capitol Thursday, said Rep. Gary Day (R-Berks/Lehigh), chairman of the select committee.

“Here in Pennsylvania, we all felt a deep amount of sadness about the tragic events involving school safety around our country,” said Day. “The goal with our select committee is to be deliberative and not rush to judgment on any particular proposal or piece of legislation. Our mission is to find out what we’re doing now in terms of school safety and security and what we should be doing. That includes facility security measures, planning and training of school personnel and first responders, and the mental health system.”

To view Rep. Day’s video comments following the hearing, click here:

The top themes focused on during the five-hour hearing Thursday included flexibility for school officials to meet the needs of their particular circumstances; planning and training for all types of hazards or threats; mental health observations and involuntary commitments; value of school resource officers; and communication among school officials, law enforcement and first responders. Everyone agreed that there is no single thread to address when it comes to preventing school violence and it takes a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach.

Those offering testimony Thursday included: Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis; Michael Kozup, director, Office of Safe Schools, PA Department of Education; Brig. Gen. Timothy Hilty, director of the Joint Staff, PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs; Glenn Cannon, director, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA); Col. Frank Noonan, commissioner, Pennsylvania State Police; Lt. Col. George Bivens, deputy commissioner of operations, Pennsylvania State Police; David Freed, district attorney, Cumberland County, and vice president, Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association; and Chief Robert Martin, Susquehanna Township Police Department, and former chief, Dauphin County Chiefs of Police Association.

Among the topics touched upon by Tomalis was the need to strike a good balance between schools being safe environments and being essential to academic and lifelong success. That is because Pennsylvania is so very diverse, that some schools are better equipped in dealing with safety threats than others. School officials have differing levels of knowledge, experience and training with respect to school safety.

All schools are required to submit all-hazard plans through PEMA and those must be reviewed annually and modified if necessary. Cannon stressed that toolkits are available to help schools and others with their planning and that to respond effectively to save lives, individuals must be trained and undergo exercises. “Without training, planning has little value,” he said. “That day, when something happens shouldn’t be the first time school officials and first responders meet.”

The topic of active shooter situations was discussed at length – and what needs to be done in the first three minutes before police arrive when school officials are the ones on the front lines. In addition, those who offered insight into school violence issues noted that the type of violence occurring on a more prevalent day-to-day basis in schools involve domestic incidents, student fighting and most notably, bullying.

It became clear from all levels of law enforcement that more emphasis needs to be placed on better understanding incidents of violence and their motivation – if society is serious about trying to prevent future tragedies.

 “Our committee Thursday heard from experts in their fields – law enforcement, emergency planning and response, and education – and learned a lot about the various factors involved in making sure our children are safe and secure,” said Day. “I thank them all for their testimony, which is going to be valuable in developing our recommendation to the full House later this fall.”

The next hearing is slated for May 9 in Aston, Delaware County.

Representative Gary Day
187th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact:  Jennifer Keaton
717.705.2094 /
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