The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is hoping to present their final report to the Governor on March 3rd. The panel met Friday morning to go over any changes to the draft report released Thursday.
Chairman Scott Jackson says while some great progress has already been made, it's imperative lawmakers remember the way they felt on 12-14. He wants them to be part of the solution, because there is no enforcement mechanism included in the report. Jackson says it's going to take the will of the state legislature.
Former Newtown state Representative Chris Lyddy told his fellow commissioners that they have made an incredible contribution to the Town of Newtown, and to the United States. He notes that while the panel's work is done, this journey does not come to an end for many people. The Town, families, teachers and the country still have milestones to come.
Lyddy says this was an academic process and an emotional one. He says their work was accomplished with integrity, honesty and care for the Newtown community.
Although the Commission has chosen to conclude the description of the events of 12-14 at the time of the gunman's death, it acknowledges that, in many ways, the event continues to this day for many of those involved.
The Commission sought to create an industry best practice document that set standards and recommendations to be used moving forward in the design and operation of schools from a safety and security perspective.
The Commission noted that it was not set up to look into one individual's interaction with the mental health system, but rather at how those systems can better serve the state's children. The Commission says they are not claiming that better treatment will prevent future acts of mass violence, or reduce violence generally, but might diminish many of the risk factors for violence. The Commission wants a more family-focused care, more to be learned about social isolation and how to bring social-emotional learning into all schools.
School safety infrastructure planning should be based on an "all hazards" assessment. School designs must provide the means for students, teachers, and staff to maintain visual control over their environment and close off sight lines once a perceived threat is identified.
In setting forth the recommendations on firearms, the Commission says it does not seek to deprive citizens of their right to hunt, engage in target practice or own a firearm for self-defense. The Commission expressed concerned about the proliferation, throughout the civilian population, of weapons that were specifically designed for military use.
The Commission says its work is complementary to that of Connecticut's Child Advocate and incorporates by reference the findings and recommendations advanced in hers. Mental health extends significantly beyond the management of mental illness. Yet for much of the past century, the Commission says mental health care has remained largely reactive instead of proactive.
For many children, schools offer the only real possibility of accessing services. The Commission is recommending that school districts increase the availability of school guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists, and other school health and behavioral health professionals during and after the school day as well as potentially on Saturdays.