03/18 - Making Schools Safe | Louisiana Public Square | LPB
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03/18 - Making Schools Safe

Where does Louisiana stand in this national discussion?

The school shooting in Broward County Florida that took the lives of 17 people has reignited the debate over how to make our schools safe. Energized students nationwide are calling for restricted access to certain guns. Congress is considering broader background checks and age limits on gun purchases. President Donald Trump is most enthusiastic about training school staff members to carry concealed weapons.

Where does Louisiana stand in this national discussion? How would gun control proposals affect the 45% of Louisianans who own guns? What mental health services are available to prevent teenagers from acting out violently? What increased security measures should schools take and how much will they cost? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers to these questions and more on “Making Schools Safe” airing Wednesday, March 28 at 7 p.m. on LPB and WLAE in New Orleans. (Taping Tuesday, March 27.)

Our panelists are:
• Sheriff Jason Ard, Livingston Parish
• Betty Muller, M.D., Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist
• Scott Richard, Louisiana School Boards Association
• Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia

The program features interviews with Bossier Parish School Superintendent Scott Smith; Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington; Director of Security for Bossier Parish Schools, Lt. Adam Johnson; and Meagan Medley, Ph.D., a nationally-certified school psychologist and assistant professor at Nicholls State University. LPB CEO, Beth Courtney, and LPB news anchor, Andre’ Moreau, will moderate the discussion.

Louisiana Public Square
can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

Our Panelists:


Though violent crime may be down nationwide, school shootings are up. I realize the chances of an “active shooter” incident for any given school are still vanishingly small, but it is something schools should be able to take more precautions against.  I do NOT agree that bringing more guns into schools is an answer.  It’s enough that there is a trained and armed law enforcement officer in every high school, and I still worry about these individuals.  What are the stats for armed, law enforcement school resource officers accidentally (or otherwise) firing their guns while on school grounds?  And please don’t tell me this has never happened, just because it wasn’t reported. Having a coach or an assistant principal with a little military or police training carry a loaded weapon….well, I would not send my child to such a school. My guess is that the chances that person would inappropriately fire a weapon at school are MUCH greater than that person acting as an armed defender in an active shooter situation. Plus, if an active shooter situation occurs, and there are multiple armed school personnel onsite, it will be up to police to tell who is the armed good guy, and who is the armed bad guy, in a highly adrenalized and chaotic circumstance.  Recipe for a cascading disaster. I would far rather see other, non-lethal “hardening” of school facilities and school routines.  Make it more difficult for armed bad guys to come in and shoot the place up.  Fences, reduced points of access, cameras, better training, quality drills, effective emergency communication plans between faculty, staff, administrators, and police…..Also, we must recognize that SOME students are so traumatized by their lives outside school that they simply not going to be able to be a part of “regular” school.  Facilities to educate those students should be well funded and accessible, but in my view, there should be no requirement that they be present at the same campus endangering the vast majority who are ready to learn. School personnel know who they are, and will admit that these single or double handfuls of students require an inordinately large segment of their time and energies. And now, a number of students who most have known for years have serious issues, are showing up with machine guns….what will it take before we agree that regular school is not what these small number of young people need? Anita the EBR preschool teacher touched on something very important—-building trust and teaching conflict resolution as part of life skills. I’m not sure how that could be worked in in later grades, but it sure sounded good.  Sounds like a job for an army of guidance counselors and school social workers.  And, finally, I am an active hunter and gun owner, and keep some guns in my home for self defense.  However, I do NOT agree with regular citizens having access to military style rapid fire and high capacity ammunition weaponry. Machine guns are not appropriate for hunting, and also, not the best firearm for home owner self-defense against home intruders.  These guns are first-strike weapons; assault weapons. I think those who want to own them are mostly either criminals who intend to use them to commit crimes, or, they fancy themselves a part of some sort of ad hoc dystopian future rebel insurgent survivalist force and these machine guns and high capacity firearms are part of their home arsenal they’ll use to help save humanity from the Zombie Apocalypse.  Or, the Big Bad Government.  A few might be bona fide collectors but I don’t think they represent very many who own military grade firearms.  These guns are used for one thing and one thing only: to spray lots of bullets very quickly, and rather indiscriminately. In other words, to kill lots of people as quickly as possible.  So I would support a ban on public access to this type of firearm.  I would also love to see our state’s public mental health and substance abuse clinic AND inpatient hospital system stood back up!  What a tragedy it was dismantled in the 1980’s.  Such a huge need.  Maybe the gun manufacturers and the NRA need to help pay for it!  Also, having worked as a mental health professional many yrs ago, I agree that identifying those who have emotional/mental issues and preventing them from buying guns much less having access to them, is absolutely NEVER going to work to reduce gun violence or school shootings.  For many reasons, including the ones your panel talked about (HIPPA, mostly), and others they didn’t, including the mentally ill in such a database is at best pie in the sky, and at worst, a distraction from pursuing real solutions.  The psychologist was absolutely correct that most who commit these types of crimes would not have appeared on any list of the severely mentally ill, not only because of HIPPA, but because they fall into the categories of personality disorder, rather than some kind of psychosis.  People with the former rarely meet the definition of danger to self or others because they can hold it together enough to pass a mental status exam, and other measures of sanity.  They are certainly warped and maladjusted, and potentially violent, but that alone won’t keep them off a background check list. Or get them committed to a psychiatric facility. Anyhow….those are just my thoughts on the matter.  I am the mother of 2 grown children, both of whom graduated from EBR public high schools.

Posted by Miriam Lane Davey  on  03/28  at  09:03 PM

Build very high fences around all the schools (razor wire at top) with a receptionist who lets in any visitors/suppliers by live camera through locked, automatic gates. Let these people call ahead of time and make an appointment. Trump is out of touch with reality to arm teachers with guns.

Posted by Beverly Olinde  on  03/29  at  10:38 AM

As the person who started the Safe School Initiative. I have a complete outline on how to make all schools safe, plus I have a way to pay for all safety measures. In addition, I also have a way to continued funding for updating safety equipment, but training as well.

Posted by Jack McCune  on  03/29  at  10:40 AM

I agree with nearly everyone there tonight on school safety and the senator is right on two parts, funding is the major issue and doing nothing is not acceptable. So Senator, propose legislation for a School Safety Tax to fund: 1. A resource officer at every school like the Sheriff suggested and said was necessary, 2. Hard physical changes at each school like metal detectors and single entry points, 3. More guidance counselors to increase the focus on mental health issues, and 4. Provide better training to school personnel to recognize broken children and change the school environment. Let’s put our money where our mouths are and put our children’s safety first.

Posted by Jason Naquin  on  03/29  at  10:43 AM

Childrens safety first! America should be proud of our school system. Instead its push to the side and neglected in every sense. Teachers are under paid and the kids are so distracted from boredom, no one is learning anything. Teaching our children with quality will help them safe guard themselves and not turn to violence or drugs or just nonsense the way most kids do today. The future looks very a little grim here unless changes are made.

Posted by Charles Church  on  04/03  at  11:59 AM

Fabricate excessive fences round every one of the colleges (razor cord at pinnacle) with a secretary who allows any visitors/carriers via live digicam via bolted, programmed doorways. deliver those individuals a threat to call early and make an association. Trump is withdrawn from fact to arm educators with firearms.<a >Continue reading</a>

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     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?
In 2017, Louisiana’s legislature passed the Justice Reinvestment Act, which sought to reduce the state’s highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate. The bill was championed by Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards and received bipartisan support including from community and business leaders. Now, just over a year later, the legislation has become a political football. State Attorney General Jeff Landry and Senator John Kennedy, both Republicans considering a run against Edwards in 2019, suggest that the reform package is a failure. They cite murders committed by two inmates released since the Act’s implementation.

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended? Has the legislation put more residents in harm’s way or are plea deals part of the problem?

Louisiana Public Square looks for answers to these questions and more on “Revisiting Reform” Wednesday, September 26 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE.

Our panelists are:
• E. Pete Adams, Executive Director, La. District Attorneys Association
• Alanah Hebert, ACLU of Louisiana & Justice Reinvestment Task Force
• Andrew Hundley, Louisiana Parole Project
• Sec. Jimmy LeBlanc, La. Department of Corrections

The program features interviews with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry; Rep. Terry Landry, D- New Iberia, with the Justice Reinvestment Oversight Council; Deputy Assistant Secretary Natalie Laborde, with the Louisiana Department of Corrections; and Stephanie Riegel, editor of the Baton Rouge Business Report.

LPB CEO, Beth Courtney and professor Robert Mann with the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

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