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CNY law enforcement officials meet in response to Buffalo, Texas mass shootings

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
In this 2016 photo, law enforcement and other officials discuss was to prevent school violence

Central New York law enforcement officials and experts in mass shootings, gathered for a summit Tuesday in response to recent mass shootings across the country.

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick actually called the meeting after the 10 people were killed at a Buffalo supermarket, then the Uvalde, Texas school shooting made it more imperative.

"There’s got to be a better way for people to communicate the information they have about these potential mass shooters, whether it’s a school shooting, a church shooting, a racially motivated shooting, whatever the situation is," said Fitzpatrick.

The meeting was not open to the public or the media, but speaking to WRVO after the meeting, Fitzpatrick said much of the discussion surrounded red flag laws, or ERPO’s, Extreme Risk Protection Orders. Recent state legislation expanded the individuals who can file an ERPO order, which temporarily restricts a person’s access to guns if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others. He’d also like to see it expanded even more, to county attorneys that handle cases in family court.

"If someone is inconvenienced for a period of time, and has to come to court and say ‘when I said that, I didn’t mean it, I’m not mentally ill, here’s a psychiatric examination results.’ I think that exchange is worth preventing one of those shootings from happening here,” he said.

The group also reviewed the Onondaga County School Safety Task Force plan meant to prevent school violence, which was developed four years ago. Fitzpatrick said it’s important local officials continue to meet on a more regular basis to review the safety plan and make sure all agencies involved are up to date, and following recommendations.

“Review cases that come up, unique fact patterns, when were we successful, when were we not successful, is every police agency staying up with protocols, do they all have floor plans of every school in their jurisdictions, do they have good trainings on lockdowns and active shooter alerts,” he said.

Fitzpatrick said it’s more important now than ever to keep an eye especially on any youth who may be pulled into gun violence.

"I think we’re going to suffer the results of the COVID lockdown on our youth for many years to come. I think history will judge us harshly, that we did a disservice to our young people,” he said. “I hope I’m wrong. I hope that’s not accurate, but I fear it is."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.