Governor Quinn has plan to keep Illinois students safe in event of school shooting

Students from the Louisiana Schnell School board a bus after a shooting took place at the school in Placerville, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. Principal Sam LaCara died after allegedly being shot by the school's janitor, John Leubbers, who was taken into custody about an hour after the shooting. No children were injured in the incident. The children were taken to the nearby fairgrounds to be reunited with their loved ones.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

February 7, 2013 8:51:46 PM PST
The ABC7 I-Team has learned of a plan to overhaul the way schools in Illinois conduct safety drills.

Governor Pat Quinn is now calling for a new law that require students and police to practice together how they would handle an active shooter.

Right now in Illinois there are age-old standards that place far more emphasis on fire danger and tornadoes in schools than on the threat of a gunman.

But Governor Quinn began work to shore up state law after the Sandy Hook school attack in December. The I-Team has details of his new initiative that was only touched upon in Wednesday's State of the State speech.

Wednesday, Governor Quinn issued the general challenge. Thursday, the I-Team has learned that Quinn wants to expand and redefine the way students, teachers and administrators train to respond if a gunman begins shooting in their school.

The School Active Shooter Law now being pushed by the governor would require a minimum of six drills each year --double the number now required -- including three building evacuation drills, one bus evacuation, one law enforcement drill, and one shelter in place that would simulate a weather emergency.

Among the changes: For the first time, students and police would be required to practice their roles together in an active shooter situation.

The move comes a little more than a month after Quinn convened a state task force to examine the current law, which requires more fire drills than law enforcement training for students, and requires no student interaction.

"This is our opportunity to get all the ideas on the table, have everyone really say their piece on what is important and then prioritize those ideas," said Illinois Emergency Management Director Jon Monkin.

Currently, there are only state recommendations for dealing with active shooter scenarios in schools, so some schools are looking for answers on their own.

Thursday night on ABC7 News at 10, the I-Team looks at one controversial program being adopted by schools and police departments across the state that relies on students themselves as the last line of defense against a gunmen.

Last month in McHenry County, a drill with police at Cary-Grove High School attracted a lot of attention from parents, students and media. During that so-called code-red active shooter drill, a starter pistol was fired to add to the authenticity of the drill. Some parents and students didn't like that part of it. But, under the proposal by Governor Quinn, police and students would be mandated to practice together.