School Security Task Force Never Formed, Could Get Second Chance

Feb 6, 2014

Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  When tragedy strikes, politicians often line up to say they'll do something to make sure it doesn't happen again. But the follow-up can lag early promises. That's what happened after the 2012 shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Last year, the General Assembly voted to create a school security task force. With the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary fresh in their minds, the members were to research best practices from other states, and present ideas for new laws for school safety.

But only a handful of the slots on the committee were ever filled, they never met, and never proposed any safety measures by the Jan. 1 deadline.

Now lawmakers are considering whether to extend it.

Dr. Robert Bernat, a school safety advocate from Highland Park, says this could be a matter of life and death.

"At Sandy Hook, it was not the failure to plan. It was the failure of the plan," he said. "It is therefore clear that a very few minutes is a lifetime. In fact, it's 26 lifetimes, we've learned."

Bernat, a parent of young children himself, founded Safer Schools First in response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook. He says he'd like to be on the task force...if Illinois ever gets around to forming it.