Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new law that requires all Illinois schools to hold active safety drills with local law enforcement to ensure they are as prepared as possible in the event of a shooting incident. Today's action is part of the governor's agenda to improve public safety in Illinois.
As one of his top public safety priorities this session, Governor Quinn proposed this legislation during his 2013 State of the State address to increase safety in Illinois schools in the wake of recent school shooting incidents such as the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
"Our students, teachers, principals and school staff can never be too prepared for an emergency situation where a gun is involved," Governor Quinn said. "If the unthinkable were ever to occur, knowing what to do, where to go and how to respond could save many precious lives. These safety drills will ensure that every Illinois school works with local law enforcement to be as prepared as possible."
Currently, school districts are required to conduct a minimum of six drills: three school evacuation drills, one bus evacuation drill, one law enforcement drill and one severe weather and shelter-in-place drill.
Senate Bill 1625 amends the School Safety Drill Act and makes several changes to the official requirements for school safety drills. The new law requires that the law enforcement drill include a shooting incident, and that law enforcement participate in it. The drill must take place in each school building where students are taught, and it must occur during the academic year. The bill was sponsored by State Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora).
"In addition to addressing the root causes of shootings and other threats to student safety, we must be prepared for the worst," State Sen. Collins said. "Unfortunately, safety drills need to prepare our schools to respond not only to acts of nature, but to acts of violence."
"This legislation is good for the welfare of the children of Illinois, and I applaud Governor Quinn for making this a top priority and for signing this bill today," State Rep. Linda Chapa La Via said.
Following the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn. in December of 2012, Governor Quinn convened top experts from across the state for a School Safety Summit to develop short- and long-term actions to further strengthen school safety. The summit included school district organizations, law enforcement agencies and state agencies, including the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
Today's legislation was developed by the governor and supported by the summit. Senate Bill 1625 takes effect immediately.