Attorney General Curtis Hill participated in a school safety forum last week in Washington D.C. hosted by Florida’s two U.S. senators – Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, and Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat. Panelists spoke of ways to avoid future tragedies such as the shooting earlier this year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Forum participants included families who lost loved ones in that devastating event.
At the forum, Attorney General Hill advocated a multi-pronged approach to improve school safety — including making maximum use of red flag laws, hiring well-trained safety personnel and utilizing effective technology and infrastructure. Indiana, he told the panel, has focused on “what we can do to harden our schools but not make them a prison.”
Afterward, Attorney General Hill expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share Indiana’s successes.
“Hoosiers have worked hard to pursue effective strategies here in Indiana,” Attorney General Hill said. “We consider it a privilege anytime we can share our experiences to benefit Americans elsewhere across the country. By the same token, we will always study the practices of other states to see what policies we might consider adopting here. This sharing of ideas demonstrates the beauty of American federalism.”
Among other Indiana participants at the forum was Steuben County Sheriff Tim Troyer, president of the Indiana Sheriff’s Association. He supported Attorney General Hill’s call for making schools more secure. “Our schools are soft, easy targets,” Sheriff Troyer lamented.
At the forum, Attorney General Hill also touted Southwestern High School in Shelby County as a model of enhanced security. The district’s superintendent, Dr. Paula Maurer, was also part of the Hoosier contingent on Capitol Hill for the forum.
Under Indiana’s red flag laws, law enforcement may seize guns from people believed to present an imminent danger to themselves or others. The measure ensures that law enforcement can protect the public while also providing due process to preserve 2nd Amendment rights. Indiana was one of the first states to have such laws. Sen. Rubio has called for federal incentives to encourage all states to adopt similar statutes.
Another consensus view shared by panelists was the need to promote improved communication within every school community – including confidential tips from students to trusted adults — in order to better enable officials to learn about threats and intervene before tragedies occur.