- Associated Press - Thursday, March 22, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on violence and security in New Mexico schools (all times local):

1:05 p.m.

A panel of New Mexico lawmakers is calling for a special task force to be created to consider and recommend legislation that could help address security concerns on public school campuses around the state.

The vote by the Legislative Finance Committee came Thursday during a hearing in which numerous suggestions were floated for preventing school shootings and strategies that would help law enforcement with their response.

Democrat Sen. George Munoz of Gallup initially called for a special legislative session, saying the problems need to be fixed before the next school year begins in August. Lawmakers aren’t scheduled to meet again for a regular session until January.

Fellow legislators argued that an actual plan for addressing the problem would be needed before a special session could be called. However, they supported forming the task force as a way to begin discussions.


12:30 p.m.

New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas says public schools can be “tactical nightmares” when officers have to response to emergencies such as a shooting.

Kassetas testified Thursday before the Legislative Finance Committee as officials gathered to discuss possible strategies for boosting school security and preventing violence on campuses around the state.

A state agency that helps districts with the planning, construction and maintenance of their buildings has been touring the state to get a better idea of what districts are doing to make their campuses safer and what is still needed.

Public School Facilities Authority Director Jonathan Chamblin says some districts have been working on security for more than a decade. His office is preparing a new set of guidelines schools can use going forward.

He also says law enforcement officials are being asked to weigh in on design reviews as new schools or major renovations are planned.


10:40 a.m.

The superintendent of a New Mexico school district where two high school students were killed in a shooting rampage in December says existing safety plans and teacher training helped to keep more students safe that day.

Aztec Superintendent Kirk Carpenter testified Thursday before the Legislative Finance Committee as officials gathered to discuss possible strategies for boosting school security.

Carpenter described the events of Dec. 7 in which students Francisco “Paco” Fernandez and Casey Jordan Marquez were killed. Carpenter called the shooter a coward, saying the former Aztec High School student fired randomly and that the gunfire traveled through walls and windows.

Aztec Police Chief Mike Heal told lawmakers that the northwest New Mexico community has been through a lot and that he’s meeting with students to talk with them about their ideas for making the campus safer.


12:30 a.m.

Top law enforcement officials, administrators from a New Mexico school district where two students were shot and killed in December and some of the state’s most influential lawmakers are looking for strategies to make schools safer.

Officials are gathering Thursday at the State Capitol for a hearing before the Legislative Finance Committee on school violence and what can be done to limit the risks.

Lawmakers recently approved $46 million for public school security projects over the next four years, but officials acknowledge that it will take more than building upgrades and surveillance cameras to restore a sense of security in the classroom.

According to a briefing prepared by the committee’s analysts, there’s no one strategy or combination of strategies that can provide a guarantee against another school shooting.

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