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Utah School Safety Commission presents recommendations


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Utah School Safety Commission presented its recommendations to Utah lawmakers on Wednesday.  They believe their findings can be a good first step in keeping kids safe.

(House Speaker Greg Hughes)

The Commission formed in March.

“We said we want to do this on a thoughtful but fairly short timeline, so those recommendations can happen before the next school year, if action can be taken,” said Davis County representative Ray Ward.

People from both sides of the gun control debate were asked to be part of the commission.  Ward says the 11-member commission had students, educators, gun advocates, law enforcement and law makers.

“The idea was to bring together different experts and look at it from different angles,” he said.

They talked about everything from gun access and safe storage to mental health resources and availability.  They ranked all their ideas, and that’s everything from access to guns, to safe storage, to mental health resources and counseling, to making sure databases in Utah are talking to each other.

At the very top of their list was to let schools have access to  a well-trained mental health team for students at risk.

“That would include a mental health professional at the center of the team to adequately assess what the risk could be.  It would include an administrator from the school.  It would include a social worker,” Ward said

Other recommendations include mandated mental health reporting.  Ward said, for a while, the information gathered during background checks done in Utah wasn’t being forwarded to federal officials.  Also, the group recommends gun violence restraining orders, which would let investigators temporarily remove someone’s weapons if they’re making treats to the general public.  He said a bill dubbed as the “red flags” bill is already being discussed by lawmakers.  However, Ward says this has to be done delicately.

“You can’t just take away someone’s rights, but, you can set that structure up so that due process could be met,” Ward said.

It will be up to policy makers and lawmakers now on what to do, because the commission has no authority or funding to put their recommendations into action.

(Contributing: Paul Nelson)