Viewpoint: N.C. General Assembly must make securing our schools a top priority
BY A.J. DAOUD
The recent school shootings in Florida and Maryland have made it very clear that more than talk is needed to protect our students, teachers and schools. We are long over-due for action. While the N.C. General Assembly has taken steps to form a committee to study the issue, immediate action is needed –- to ensure that our children and teachers feel safe and to give parents peace of mind.
When our nation was attacked on 9/11, our government acted immediately to increase security at airports, government buildings, and other ports of entry. Funds were made available for additional security personnel, increased intelligence gathering, and the enhancement and expansion of infrastructure and resources vital to the prevention of another attack. While our military took immediate action overseas against those responsible, our leaders at home moved swiftly to ensure that American citizens would never again face similar disaster.
Our leaders on the state level should approach school security with the same sense of urgency. One immediate action that must be taken is to retrofit perimeter security of our schools through capital improvements and investments in physical preventative measures. Controlled entry/exit points, enhanced monitoring capabilities, and internal “safe room” devices are all common-sense improvements that must be pursued. Additionally, our legislative bodies must pass a bill giving authority to the Department of Public Safety to create a division tasked with planning and implementing comprehensive school security measures.
Steps must also be taken to enhance information-sharing with federal agencies to ensure the timely recognition and appropriate response to potential threats, just like the ones at North Iredell High School recently covered in the media. Thankfully, in this case, the threats were identified by local officials, and law enforcement responded quickly. However, every possibility must be explored -- and every step taken -- to ensure that warning signs do not go ignored like they did in the Parkland, Florida, case.
As a former police officer, school youth officer, and leader of a national police organization, I understand how important it is for law enforcement to be proactive and have a sense of urgency. Our elected officials must take the same approach to school safety and security. Having served as a state Lottery Commissioner, I know that funding is available from recently-launched games. The General Assembly can – and should – earmark these funds immediately.
The time for debate on the merits of arming teachers or school staff can come later. Measures can be taken now to make North Carolina the leader in school safety and the state the rest of America looks to as the model for how to immediately act to protect students and teachers.
A.J. Daoud is a Republican candidate for the 34th District seat in the N.C. Senate. He lives in East Bend.