The House Study Committee on School Security will hold its third session today at 10 a.m. in Atlanta, but the proceedings also can be viewed online through a Livestream link on the chamber's website.
Two local lawmakers, Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, and Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, sit on the nine-member panel formed in the wake of the Feb. 14 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Lumsden, a retired Georgia State Patrol trooper, said Monday the up-coming meeting will focus on ways to protect school buildings. It's a simple issue with a complicated answer, he explained.
"Securing a facility is something we've done, and done reasonably well, for 100 years or more. It's not difficult," Lumsden said. "But the mission of a school is a different dynamic than a courthouse or a prison, so it becomes a question of degree."
The committee, chaired by Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, is scheduled to hear from a slate of experts on various facets of the topic.
Testimony is expected from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the GBI, school resource officers, the Department of Education, the American Institute of Architects and communication equipment provider Motorola Solutions.
Lumsden said he views school security as a two-pronged challenge: hardening the buildings against outside threats and protecting students and staff from what happens inside.
"Bear in mind, most of these threats have come from students or someone with a connection to the schools," he said. "The first two meetings we had really centered on the mental health issue and school climate."
Interpersonal resources to engage with students and help identify those who may act out are as important as physical tools such as perimeter fencing and metal detectors, Lumsden said. What's effective in one area, however, may not be appropriate in another.
"It's on the local level where they can find that balance," he said. "The work of the committee is going to be providing a list of best practices and making funding available for school systems to do what they think is best."
The House resolution creating the committee sets Dec. 1 as the date it is automatically dissolved. Recommendations are expected to be presented during the 2019 Georgia General Assembly session, which starts Jan. 14.