DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds spoke about the state’s latest efforts to keep schools safe during a press conference on Tuesday.
These efforts include creating an Office of School Safety and expanding access to mental health services across the state.
Reynolds said the state is allocating $100 million to the project, mostly funding from the U.S. federal bailout. The School Safety Office will be staffed with dedicated school safety specialists. It will implement technology, including an app, to make it easier for the public to report threats anonymously and provide specialized training in response to educators and law enforcement.
As part of the new school safety plan, law enforcement will provide emergency radios to schools to report problems and make active shooter training available to educators, places of worship and first responders.
The office is intended to complement current efforts by state and local law enforcement.
“Mass shootings and other acts of violence against innocent people are impossible to understand, but we must work to answer the question: ‘why is this happening? What drives someone to commit such evil acts?’ Otherwise, off-the-shelf solutions will continue to fail,” Reynolds said. “The gun debate will continue, but until we consider that the lethal weapon in these events is the person who picks up the gun and turns it on another, we risk overlooking other solutions. who directly address the cause of this violence and work to reverse its course.”
Reynolds spoke of the need for such an office due to the impact of the pandemic on children. Reynolds cited a survey of young people in Iowa which reported that 27% of college students reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more, and they stopped participating in some of their usual activities. The report also indicates that violent behavior is increasingly common in schools.
The state is also working to expand Iowa’s network of mental health providers by funding residency programs and helping mental health professionals repay their loan in exchange for practicing in underserved areas. .
It also funds programs that train primary care providers to recognize and treat signs of mental illness.
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