maine capitol

Maine Takes Steps To Establish School Safety Center

The state Department of Education hired two employees to focus on plans for a statewide policy-focused safety center, an idea lawmakers have pushed for years.

At a legislative committee hearing on Wednesday, the Maine Department of Education announced that it is taking new steps to establish a school safety center -- a project that is nearly six years in the making.

Safe Havens International, a campus safety consulting company, recommended that the department create a center in a 2013 report evaluating security issues at a sample of Maine schools, The Portland Press Herald reported. Some lawmakers criticized the DOE for not moving forward with the recommendation at the time.

Now, the department has hired two new employees to focus on school safety and security. Those employees -- a former school resource officer and retired state police sergeant -- will prepare a report on the specifics of the center, which legislators envision as a hub for security guidelines meant to help schools across the state improve their safety policies. ‘’

That report should be presented to the state legislature by Feb. 15, according to Chelsey Fortin-Trimble, the director of policy and government affairs for the department.

“The two people that were hired we hired specifically for their expertise and their experience in the field,” Fortin-Trimble said, according to the Press Herald. “Our priority is for those two gentlemen to focus solely on that report.”

Conservative legislators have criticized their Democratic colleagues for focusing too much on passing new gun control policies and not enough on fortifying school buildings and other security solutions, according to the Press Herald.

Rep. Patrick Corey, a Republican who sponsored a resolution last year to press for a safety center, told the newspaper that the benefits of creating such a hub could go beyond protecting students and staff from a mass shooting. The center could be helpful in issuing policies to handle bullying and domestic violence affecting students, Corey said.

“I think it pays off in a lot of other ways beyond the whole firearms thing,” Corey said.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.