With the goal of identifying problems, available resources
and long-term solutions, area leaders from New Hanover and Pender counties with
gather for a Summit on School Safety to help protect the children in the local
community while they are in school.
University of North Carolina Wilmington Chancellor Gary
Miller opened the press conference, held on campus on Feb. 28, to share
information about the summit.
Wearing a green ribbon in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary
School shooting victims along with other area leaders, Miller said the
educating and protecting children are the two most important obligations.
“All of us up here watched in horror what happened in
Newtown, Conn.,” said District Attorney Ben David.
David said as the person in charge of advising the local law
enforcement, he has looked at several studies on the subject, dating back to
the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999.
“The take-home message from all of those studies is that we
must take a collaborative, coordinated approach, a whole-community response
that engages all stakeholders responding to this threat,” David said.
Others who have looked at school violence concluded that
action taken must include developing a threat assessment team within a school
or school district, he said, noting the website http://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter.
“That’s precisely what we have in mind to do here in the
Fifth District,” David said.
The Summit on School Safety will be held on Tuesday, March
12, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the Cape Fear Community College downtown campus.
Participation is by invitation only due to space limitations.
Along with Larry Bonney, founding member of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation Hostage Rescue Team and behavioral analyst,
participants will hear from School Resource Officers, guidance counselors and
school board attorneys and judges.
Many of those who spoke at the press conference mentioned
the New Hanover County Blue Ribbon Commission on the Prevention of Youth
Violence, formed in 2008.
“Every one of us understands that our children’s safety
comes first,” Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley said.
He said he hopes the summit will bring together all of the
Mayor Bill Saffo talked about how the city of Wilmington,
county and beach towns came together immediately after the Sandy Hook tragedy
to fund officers in all of the elementary schools countywide.
“This is a true collaborative effort,” Saffo said.