Military veterans pitch safety plan for Delaware schools

During a presentation in 2014, Tim Norton, president of Norhurst Tactical, a Virginia-based disabled veteran-owned company, shows off the “Sheltr Shield” which he believes all Delaware schools can benefit from. (Delaware State News file photo)

DOVER — Just over three years later school safety threats clearly remain.

That’s why Tim Norton and Dave Skocik continue to promote their program. The duo is pushing the SHELTR-USA plan as the way for Delaware and schools nationwide to prevent attacks and cripple the ones that do occur.

Mr. Norton, a former U.S. Army Special Forces commander, presented the program to Delaware legislators without success in December 2014, but private donations fell short.

Last month’s shooting that resulted in 17 deaths at a Florida high school sparked national debate on firearms and how schools can best be protected.

In a letter to Delaware House and Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security members on Feb. 23, Mr. Skocik described “a comprehensive, weaponless security system that will train teachers, staff, and first responders in common methods, tactics, and language to not only deal with a threat as it unfolds, but in some cases, to see it coming before anyone pulls a trigger.

“That’s key because the majority of the murders are a surprise and carried out before first responders arrive.”

Vietnam veteran Dave Skocik

The proposal will only enhance safeguards already in place in Delaware, Mr. Skocik said.

With this system, Mr. Norton said, Delaware school teachers and staff will be trained to “respond instead of react” to threats and perceived threats. A program could be in place within six months of approval, he said.

The program “provides a unified system specifically designed to provide a multi-layered process of protecting school children from threats by training and working directly with school employees, making these onsite assets the primary surveillance team of our schools who can communicate directly with one another and first responders.”

An earlier pitch to Delaware Gov. John Carney is awaiting response, Mr. Skocik said. Delaware Secretary of Homeland Security Robert Coupe listened to the proposal via a conference call in October 2017, then declined further followup in a response letter in December.

Mr. Skocik said the rebuff was somewhat “based on erroneous assumptions related to what he believed was an earmark request and single source bidding.
“This will be a grant for a pilot program, not an earmark.”

Mr. Skocik, a military veteran and longtime college administrator and teacher, described the $3.2 million program as free to Delaware and “without reliance on outside contractors. …

“It will connect all 226 public schools in the state with common standards, language and procedures without relying on disparate outside organizations.”

Other states proposed for the program include Alabama, Rhode Island, Kentucky and Indiana. The Federal Office of Homeland Security will sponsor the venture

Non-public schools can receive the program through private funding, Mr. Skocik said.

More information on the program is available online at www.SHELTRUSA.com.

Mr. Skocik, who notes he is not a paid advocate, hopes to attract interest from enough state legislators to build momentum to accept the SHELTR program.

“If Delaware does not chose to act, another state will be proposed,” he said. “The bottom line is I believe our students deserve to have the maximum protection available, particularly when it’s available at no cost to our state.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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