CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office has partnered with the National Rifle Association to provide expert training in how to identify security vulnerabilities and protect students.

The two-day, National School Shield seminar took place April 19-20 at Westwood Middle School in Morgantown. School leaders from Monongalia and Marion counties learned emerging technologies, how to assess physical security components and best practices for identifying potential threats and common vulnerabilities.

“Schools must be safe environments that foster learning,” Morrisey said. “Expert training provided through this program strengthens the ability of school leaders to secure their campuses and protect students from emerging threats. This will help ensure student safety remains intact.” 

According to the most recent data, 15.5 percent of the nation’s schools reported at least one serious violent incident at school during the 2015-16 school year, including 8.5 percent of schools reporting at least one threat of physical attack with a weapon.

The National School Shield, an initiative born in response to the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, is meant to equip schools with the knowledge and resources to prevent such incidents in the future. 

It specifically focuses upon training leaders to conduct a comprehensive vulnerability assessment. The all-inclusive approach teaches school resource officers and anyone tasked with facilities or security to examine all aspects of a school’s campus. That includes its layout, communications infrastructure, daily operations and its overall threat preparedness. 

The National School Shield program also affords school systems to apply for financial grants to assist with security upgrades.

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