Washington Co. Sheriff Named To Governor’s School Safety Commission

LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) — Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday (March 1) announced the creation of the Arkansas School Safety Commission, appointing a local sheriff and school superintendent to help assess school security statewide and recommend any additional safeguards by July.

“The physical safety of our students is a nonnegotiable responsibility and demands the immediate attention of professionals in education, law enforcement, security, and mental health,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson selected Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder and Clarksville School District Superintendent David Hopkins to serve on the 11-member commission, which will evaluate school designs, safety and security policies, as well as emergency plans and policies, school counseling, and mental health issues.

Commissioners will also review school-security data, including issues like single-point entry, electronic access badges, and school resource officers.

Hutchinson will appoint a mental health professional in the coming days, prior to the start of the commission’s work. Additional appointees from across the state may be named later.

Hutchinson committed $300,000 from the governor's discretionary fund to the Criminal Justice Institute for school security assessments and additional training for resource officers.

Helder said he is honored to be on the commission, adding that it's critical commissioners get to work soon to prevent another school shooting in Arkansas.

"It's going to take collaboration from a lot of different venues  — law enforcement, mental health, school officials," Helder said. "It's gonna' involve training, and how we deal with our children, and how we secure our schools."

Hopkins, who has overseen a district with armed faculty and staff for nearly five years, praised Hutchinson for forming the commission:

 “I am very honored to be asked by our Governor to serve on the Arkansas School Safety Commission. The protection of our school children must be a top priority for our state’s schools. I truly appreciate the Governor’s leadership on this important issue. I also recognize how fortunate we are to have a Governor that has such an extensive background and high level of expertise in the area of school safety and law enforcement. This issue is very near and dear to my heart because I have two sons that attend school in the Clarksville School District. As a parent, I can assure you that I will go to extraordinary measures and work tirelessly to help put safeguards into place for all of our schools.”

Hutchinson and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said they are opposed to gun control measures such as raising the minimum age to buy a firearm to 21, pointing to other mass shootings that involved older shooters, according to Talk Business & Politics.

The commission's report is due July 1. A full list of members is below:

  • Dr. Cheryl May – Chair
    Director, Criminal Justice Institute (CJI)
    University of Arkansas System
  • Bill Temple – Vice Chair
    Retired Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • John “Don” Kaminar
    Special Projects and School Safety Manager
    Arkansas Department of Education (ADE)
  • Brad Montgomery
    Director of Public School Academic Facilities
    Arkansas Department of Education (ADE)
  • A.J. Gary
    Director, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM)
  • Sheriff Tim Helder
    Washington County Sheriff
  • Jami Cook
    Director, Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy (ALETA)
  • Will Jones
    Deputy Attorney General, Special Investigations Unit
    Office of the Attorney General
  • David Hopkins
    Superintendent, Clarksville School District
  • Dawn Anderson
    High School Counselor, Hot Springs High School
  • John Allison
    Teacher, Vilonia High School