INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb is working with state agency leaders to develop both short- and long-term recommendations for improving school safety in Indiana following the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 students and teachers.
The Republican said he met for two hours last week with every state official who has "anything remotely to do with school safety" to ascertain if Indiana is doing everything it can to prevent a similar incident from happening at a Hoosier school and whether the state is prepared to respond should the worst occur.
He said the group agreed the best way to control what happens inside school buildings is to control who is permitted to enter the facilities.
"How do we assure parents and students and teachers that only the right people are inside?" Holcomb asked. "That's first, taking care of that perimeter.
"Once we get past that layer, then we have to make sure all of the coordination is occurring between local law enforcement and those schools."
The governor said he intends to issue recommendations for immediate action by mid-March, so members of the Indiana General Assembly can take them home to their constituents following the conclusion of the annual legislative session.
"I just don't want folks in this building (the Statehouse) knowing what's going on, I want folks knowing what's going on in all 92 counties and the smallest towns out there," Holcomb said.
Later in the year, he plans to announce long-term school safety improvements that he'll ask lawmakers to consider in the 2019 session as they craft the next two-year state budget.
"If there needs to be improvement, then we're prepared to make sure that we're doing everything humanly possible to protect our students when they go to school," Holcomb said.
Indiana already offers school safety training to educators and other school personnel, provides $10 million a year in school safety grants, permits armed school resource officers to roam building hallways and has a "red flag" law allowing guns to be taken from individuals deemed dangerous by a court.
"What I've realized over the last week is actually Indiana is a leader on this front in many ways," Holcomb said. "We've had states calling us saying, 'How did you do this or how did you do that?'"
Nevertheless, Holcomb insisted there always is more that can be done because the consequences of not doing enough would be devastating.