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Forum in Jacksonville Addresses School Safety
Since the tragic school shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children in Connecticut last month, school leaders across the country have talked about ways to improve school safety.
Thursday in Jacksonville, the community joined an expert, law enforcement, and lawmakers for an open forum called Keeping Our Schools and Children Safe.
The first point retired Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman made is kids are more likely to be killed by violence in school than any other possible cause of death put together.
Grossman has trained educators and law enforcement officers on school safety in all 50 states and abroad. He gave a blunt and grim description of the school violence he's researched.
"[Shooters are] especially going to come to all the places nobody can shoot back," he said at one point.
He stressed the best way for schools to prepare in the event of a school shooting is lockdown drills. Less than two weeks ago, students at Jacksonville High School practiced lockdown procedures.
"You never know how adequate they are until something happens, but we're always taking measures to improve," Jacksonville Police Chief Anthony Grootens said. "You find errors by practicing. We know what we need to improve on and we're improving."
Grootens said officers also have a list of schools and daycare centers in their district to regularly stop and check security measures.
JPD also trains the SWAT team for an active shooter situation at schools.
"You never know if or when it's going to happen so you have to prepare the best you can for it," Grootens said.
While school administrators work with law enforcement to craft the best protection policies possible, talking about what seems to be a rash in school massacres is hard for parents to grasp.
"It is sad," Diane Williams said after the forum. "It's hard to be hopeful and positive that it will get better."
Grossman said he believes all school shooters have one thing in common: they've been known to spend time playing violent video games and watching violent movies. He encourages parents to be more vigilant about violent content their children see.
It's important to note there was no official representing Jacksonville District 117 at the forum, and regional Superintendent Jeff Stephens left before we were able to speak to him on-camera.