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US Attorney General Visits Arkansas; Talks School Safety

Press Shop | 08.24.2018

PEARCY – They have known each other a long time, Asa Hutchinson and Jeff Sessions, and in the years between their first meeting and their most recent one, each has raised children, welcomed grandchildren, won election to Congress, accepted presidential appointments to high-ranking jobs, and traveled enough miles to circle the globe several times.

They met as young United States attorneys, appointed to their jobs by President Ronald Reagan – Mr. Sessions in 1981 at the age of 31 to the Southern District of Alabama, and, in 1982, Governor Hutchinson, at 31, to the Western District of Arkansas.

Last week (August 1, 2018), they reunited at Lake Hamilton High School in Pearcy, where Mr. Sessions had convened members of the federal School Safety Commission. There were there for a listening session with local educators, law-enforcement officers and parents. The group also included members of Governor Hutchinson’s Arkansas School Safety Commission, which he created by executive order two weeks before President Trump created the federal version.

In Mr. Session’s introduction of Governor Hutchinson, he noted that the governor was the youngest U.S. Attorney at the time.

“I was pretty young then, too,” Mr. Sessions joked.

Mr. Sessions, with his Alabama drawl, set a relaxed tone for the session, but the mood was unmistakably serious as each person who had been invited shared ideas, fears, and explained with stories from personal experience why school security must be a top priority.

The federal commission chose to visit Lake Hamilton after Congressman Bruce Westerman recommended the district during a school safety at meeting at the White House shortly after the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Leaders at Lake Highland implemented a school-security plan in 1993, years before the first mass school shooting.

At Lake Hamilton, licensed armed employees learn emergency combat first aid, they walk through active-shooter scenarios, and they train under live-fire conditions.

“Because of our location, sheriffs have told me there would be a twenty-five to thirty-minute wait for police to arrive,” Lake Hamilton Superintendent Steve Anderson said. “Twenty or thirty minutes with someone in our building shooting our children. We’re not willing to take that chance.”

Experts estimate that an attacker shoots someone every ten seconds, he said. “Between when a shooting starts and law enforcement gets here, we need to do something,” Superintendent Anderson said. “If something were to happen here, we’re going to protect our babies. We don’t wait outside. We respond to the threat. Our goal is to isolate and eliminate the threat. We want them to go home at night.

“We’re not the United States Navy Seals. We know we’re not professional law-enforcement officers. But … we’re a long way from Barney Fife. We’re willing to do whatever it takes. … We want (our kids) to go home at night.”

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