Governor Bob McDonnell's newly created Campus Safety Task Force is presenting a list of recommendations for immediate security changes in the Commonwealth. McDonnell announced the group earlier this month and gave it a strict deadline to come up with guidelines by Thursday.
"I think our schools are doing an excellent job but they have been strained through budget cuts," said safety expert Dewey Cornell.
He joined the governor's panel of experts working to ensure Virginia schools are implementing the best safety practices possible. Thursday, the group recommended making sure there's funding for anti-bullying programs and school resource officers but stopped short of requiring more officers in schools.
"If we were to put 1000 new police officers in our schools, those police officers would have to come from somewhere and we might inadvertently make things less safer in our communities," Cornell said.
The task force also looked at gun control, suggesting a 5 to 20 year sentence for anyone entering a school with a gun or an explosive device with the intent to commit a felony.
"[That's] whether or not the person's conduct actually rises to an attempt to commit that offense or whether that person actually succeeds in committing that offense," Steven Witmer with the Attorney General's Office said.
The group also wants a 10 year mandatory sentence for a person who is banned from purchasing a gun but receives one illegally from someone else and it will also suggest all public schools perform lock down drills once a semester.
"We're trying to make sure schools are safe and supportive environments that can prevent young people from growing up to be troubled in the kind of ways we have seen across this country," Cornell said.
The group also wants to require schools and universities to not only identify students who could pose a threat to the campus, but also report those findings to the state.
Now it's up to the governor to review these ideas before presenting them to lawmakers.
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