If elected District Attorney, A.G. Howell would assemble a coalition tasked with preventing and responding more effectively to threats of school violence by building on Pennsylvania Act 44, which was passed by the state Legislature in June. The group would include school officials, law enforcement, children and juvenile services, mental health providers and school behavioral health specialists.
The main objectives of the coalition would be:
- To make sure every school in Wayne County has an armed police, resource or security officer on campus at all times in the event of an active shooter situation
- To develop countywide policies and protocols regarding school safety;
- To open the lines of communication among all stakeholder groups to identify and respond immediately to potential threats
“Unfortunately, we know that by the time first responders arrive at a school shooting, the damage has already been done,” Howell said. “As chief law enforcement officer of Wayne County, I would want to know about any potential threats and respond immediately before a tragedy occurs. I would also want to make sure every school has an officer who is fully trained, armed and ready to respond immediately should a threat emerge.”
Act 44 amended the Pennsylvania School Code to provide, among other things, $60 million in grants to school districts, which can be used to hire and train school officers. It also requires every school district, intermediate unit, vocational-technical school and charter school to designate an administrator as the school safety and security coordinator, who is charged with overseeing all aspects of school security and acting as a liaison to law enforcement.
Act 44 also establishes a “Safe2Say” hotline overseen by the Attorney General’s Office, which will allow students, teachers and people in the community to report threatening behavior anonymously.
In addition to addressing the threat of school violence, Howell would work to implement programs to stop abuse and bullying.
“With the rise of the internet and social media, there are many more opportunities these days for students to be bullied in and out of school,” said Howell. “We want to work with school leaders to develop and implement programs to put an end to abuse and bullying.”