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Sandy Hook Advisory Commission issues recommendations

A draft report of recommendations by the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has been released.  The group is set to meet Friday to make final modifications to the 256 page report.  12 safe school design recommendations were outlined, in addition to the 22 proposed in an interim report.  They include having a standardized policy for issuing classroom keys to substitutes, doors that can be locked from the inside and creation of a school safety committee in each municipality. 


The draft report included 15 public safety recommendations in addition to the 15 in the interim report.  Many of the original proposals were adopted in 2013 by the state legislature. 


The biggest part of the report was 53 mental health care recommendations.  They include reducing barriers to service, streamlining fragmented service, expanding the workforce, providing more comprehensive care, and reducing the stigma of receiving mental health treatment.  The group also talked about balancing privacy and safety under HIPPA laws.


Among the new law enforcement recommendations was a proposal to have all shell casings sold in Connecticut have IDs laser etched on the.  The group also wants more screening for licenses, and stricter restraining order confiscation rules.  The panel has proposed extending rights to police officers in other towns when responding to similar events, creating a unified command structure, and holding regional response exercises.


The Commission gathered input over more than two years from experts and others, including victims' family members.  Early in the report, commission members concede "no school can be totally free of the risk of violence," short of transforming them into gated, prison-like facilities. But the group recommends safe school design and operation strategies and closer coordination with law enforcement, mental health experts and security professionals as a way to help make safer school environments possible.


The group is recommending the state build a system that goes beyond treating mental illness and fosters healthy families and individuals.

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Todd Schnitt

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