Connecticut Gov. Dannell Malloy gives a statement about the shooting during a press conference at Treadwell Memorial Park on Friday in Newtown, Conn. / Jared Wickerham, Getty Images
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Without details from the police investigation in the December shooting massacre at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School, the state commission charged with examining the incident will focus initial efforts on school security and response to trauma.
Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III said the criminal investigation could stretch to June or beyond if the state pursues criminal charges. The investigative records remain confidential under a court seal while the investigation is ongoing, he said.
The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission was formed to provide recommendations to prevent gun violence, improve school safety and mental health systems. The commission met for the first time here Thursday - 41 days after gunman Adam Lanza killed 27 people and himself. Twenty of the victims were students at Sandy Hook, six others were school officials. Sedensky, who oversees the investigation into Lanza, said at present that it doesn't appear anyone would be charged in connection with shootings.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has asked the commission to submit an interim report March 15 so that any legislative action can be taken before the Connecticut General Assembly session concludes in June.
Commission Chairman Scott Jackson, mayor of Danbury, said he chose to tackle security and trauma response because those areas "don't rely on detailed police reports." Instead, he said, the commission will be able to think more broadly about public policy that would stop all shooting incidents.
"It'll be more difficult to separate fact from fiction, but we also won't get locked into the specific facts of the day," Jackson said. "That was a singular event with a singular individual."
Jackson has asked the commission to reconvene by early February to consider setting statewide standards for school security, similar to construction or fire safety standards, that could be tied to state funding.
"We should dig in and find best practices," he said. "We can have meaningful work done by March and we can link state dollars to achieving these goals."
Jackson said he would also seek a joint meeting with the Legislature's Sandy Hook committee to discuss gun-control measures.
The commission will discuss other issues, such as changes to mental health laws, as more information becomes available, Jackson said. He said he did not expect to have access to the gunman's mental health records in the foreseeable future.
He said the commission will meet for at least six months and will hold public hearings.
Sen. John McKinney, the Republican leader in the Connecticut state Senate, said the commission "will work in concert" with the Legislature's task force on gun violence prevention and children's safety. Today's commission meeting "was a good start to that process," said McKinney, whose Senate district includes Newtown.
Malloy, who supports gun rights, said earlier that the commission should examine whether mental health professionals have the resources to intervene when people need help. In most recent mass shootings, the shooter exhibited warning signs, he said.
Among those testifying Thursday: former Colorado governor Bill Ritter, who was a Denver district attorney in 1999, when the massacre at Colorado's Columbine High School occurred. Two students killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.
Ritter -- who served on the Columbine Review Commission, which recommended ways to improve crisis response, school security and medical treatment for victims -- told the Connecticut commission that its work would be important and have nationwide ramifications.
"The nation watches. The nation asks questions and wants to understand why and how these tragic events continue to occur,'' Ritter said. "Your work can actually make a difference."
University of Virginia law school professor Richard Bonnie, a former member of the commission that reviewed the 2007 shooting massacre at Virginia Tech, told the commission not to feel pressured to act quickly in recommending policy changes.
Bonnie said it could take the commission two years to finish its work. He warned that acting prematurely could lead to "disproportionate responses," such as eroding privacy rights of the mentally ill.
Sandy Hook resident Fadil Bajraliu said he supports the commission efforts. "I hope it will do something really good for Newtown and the country," said Bajraliu, whose daughter, Vanessa, a fourth-grader at Sandy Hook, survived the shooting. Bajraliu, a carpenter who served in the Kosovo Army and moved to Newtown in 1994, said he's a gun owner who believes "we have to take the army guns out of the hands of the people."
Assault weapons like the one police say Lanza used at the school are "made for the army" and not the public, he said.
Sandy Hook resident Sam Mihailoff said the commission represents "a step forward." The retired schoolteacher is a neighbor of Francine and David Wheeler, whose 6-year-old son, Ben, was among those killed. "Talking about the issues is a positive thing - even if nothing comes of it," Mihailoff said.
Another Sandy Hook resident, Chris Aug, said the commission "may be a good start," but changes also must be made outside Connecticut. "I think it's going to take a lot more than a state commission to make impactful changes," he said. "If history is any indication, I don't see this recent tragedy having much - if any - affect to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring elsewhere."
Changes in "gun and ammunition policies" need to be national, Aug said. "With nearly 10 states within a four-hour drive from each other, it's way too easy to bypass local laws.
Members of the commission:
â?¢ Chairman Scott Jackson, mayor of Hamden, Conn.
â?¢ Adrienne Bentman, director of the Adult Psychiatry Residency Program at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living
â?¢ Ron Chivinski, a teacher at Newtown Middle School
â?¢ Robert Ducibella, founding principal of DVS Security Consulting and Engineering
â?¢ Terry Edelstein, the governor's liaison to non-profit organizations
â?¢ Kathleen Flaherty, an attorney who works at Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut
â?¢ Alice Forrester, executive director of the Clifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic
â?¢ Ezra Griffith, professor emeritus and senior research scientist at Yale University's Department of Psychiatry
â?¢ Patricia Keavney-Maruca, a member of the state board of education and a former technical high school teacher
â?¢ Christopher Lyddy, a former state legislator who represented Newtown who is a consultant on stress and trauma
â?¢ Denis McCarthy, Norwalk, Conn., fire chief
â?¢ Barbara O'Connor, University of Connecticut director of public safety and police chief
â?¢ Wayne Sandford, a professor at the University of New Haven's Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences and former deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security
â?¢ David Schonfeld, the director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement and a professor at the University of Cincinnati Department of Pediatrics
â?¢ Harold Schwartz, chief psychiatrist at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living. and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine
â?¢ Bernard Sullivan, former Hartford police chief and former commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Safety
Contributing: Gary Strauss
Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com
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