Illinois Holds Statewide School Safety Summit - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Illinois Holds Statewide School Safety Summit


The recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School acted as "an alarm bell" for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, prompting him to call the statewide School Safety Summit, held Tuesday in Springfield.

The meeting was just the first step in what state officials say will likely be a much longer process to address the issue of potential violence in schools.

"What we want to do with our summit is gather some of the information learned today, and what we learn over the next few months, I'm sure, and impart that across Illinois," Quinn said at a post-meeting press conference.

"This meeting really is a starting point. We've got the ideas, we've got some prioritization of where they would want to go," said Patti Thompson, a spokesperson for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, whom we reached by phone shortly after the meeting ended.

Step one: Bringing together representatives from nearly 30 different agencies, offices, and organizations across the state - top experts in the fields of education, public safety, mental health, and law enforcement - for a round-table talk about the problem, and potential solutions.

Thompson called it a very open conversation:

"We had an agenda that we walked through so that we were talking about particular issues in the general, but then they were able to bring forth whatever insight that they had from their experiences," she explained.

"There were a lot of good folks in the room who had a lot of good ideas," Governor Quinn said of the meeting.

The governor said he took so many notes during the discussion, he nearly ran out of paper to write everything down.

"I really feel that this is just the beginning. We have a lot of work to do," he said.

The next step is to have attendees break up into work groups to further refine ideas presented at the summit.

No specifics have been released, but the governor did say some of these ideas would require legislative action.

He plans to outline those in his State of the State address in a few weeks.

That said, speaking to reporters Tuesday, the governor stressed that he believes in local options when it comes to this issue. He said one thing the state can do is to help provide the necessary resources on the local level to address the problem.

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