DENVER, CO--(Marketwire - Jan 30, 2013) - Colorado State Senator Steve King introduced a bill yesterday that would include school resource officers (SROs) as community partners in the Colorado Safe Schools Act.
Senate Bill 13-138 (SB13-138) would allow school districts to consult with all community partners in adopting and implementing their safe school plans.
Community partners currently include fire departments, law enforcement agencies, 911 agencies, interoperable communications providers, the Safe2Tell program, mental health organizations, public health agencies, emergency management personnel, and Homeland Security personnel.
According to King, school resource officers must now be part of this group. SROs bridge school safety and public safety. They help create safe learning environments and they respond to all-hazard threats that may impact schools.
SB13-138 would also require SROs to be familiar with the School Response Framework, the all-hazard exercise program, and the interoperable communications of the schools to which they are assigned.
These three aspects of school safety represent recent improvements to the Colorado Safe Schools Act, all of which deal with the widely supported school preparedness and response platform championed over the years by King.
The School Response Framework is a set of policies centered around using the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS) to coordinate the activities of schools and first responders during a school emergency. All Colorado public schools and charter schools must now have school safety teams trained in NIMS and ICS.
An all-hazard exercise program allows schools and first responders to practice how they would apply NIMS and ICS to a broad range of threats, including human-caused hazards, technological hazards, and natural hazards. Generally, school personnel are in charge of moving students to a place of safety, while the professional responders address threats head-on and carry out rescue operations.
Interoperable communications in schools is a technology that enables radio-equipped school safety teams to communicate directly with local and state first responders during a school crisis, following the principles of NIMS and ICS. Interoperability improves the quality of just-in-time information needed during response, and can speed up response while assuring the most appropriate resources are used. King introduced in 2011 the first bill in the nation to envision a statewide emergency communications network that includes all schools.
"School resource officers excel in all these areas, particularly with the specialized training available to them," King told stakeholders at a recent School Safety Summit. "It's time we acknowledge SROs as community partners and give them the ability to protect our children in every way they can," he said.
To read the Colorado Safe Schools Act and follow SB13-138, visit King's website, SchoolSafetySummit.org.