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Pence will review school safety, but not gun laws


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INDIANAPOLIS — Gov.-elect Mike Pence said Wednesday he will seek a comprehensive study of school safety in Indiana in the wake of the Connecticut massacre that left 20 elementary students dead.

Pence said he wants the study to focus on schools, not the state’s guns laws. When pressed, he said he supports the rights of law-abiding Hoosiers to keep and bear arms and will “defend that right.”

Pence — speaking at the Statehouse less than a month before he takes office — said the budget proposal he offers the General Assembly next month will include funding for the school safety study.

“We have a responsibility especially to our kids,” Pence said. “I look forward to working with colleagues in both political parties and the Indiana Department of Education to determine ways we can do an even better job making sure that nothing like this ever happens again or ever happens in the Hoosier state.”

Twenty-seven people died last week when a young man burst into a school in Newtown, Conn. and gunned down teachers and students before shooting himself.

Pence called the event “horrifying.” He said it calls for Indiana to be “thoughtful and deliberative” as leaders consider what should be done to protect students when they are at school.

“This is not about access to guns,” he said. “This is about access to schools. We need to stay focused on making sure our kids in school are secure.”

Already, Indiana requires that schools have certified safety specialists at every school and the state runs an academy to train them. Pence said Indiana is the only state to have such a requirement written into state law.

He said the study will examine “ways we can build on that.”

Former sheriff named to top state police post

 A former county sheriff will lead the Indiana State Police.

Doug Carter, who worked as a state trooper for 18 years and was Hamilton County sheriff, was appointed to the top post by Gov.-elect Mike Pence on Wednesday.

Carter will replace Indiana State Police Chief Paul Whitesell, who stirred controversy recently when he said he favored legalizing marijuana. Pence said Wednesday that Whitesell took himself out of running for the job.

Pence also said he is appointing:

Jeff Cardwell, a hardware store owner and member of the City-County Council in Indianapolis, to serve as the executive director of the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives and be a part of Pence’s cabinet.

Rob Carter to continue to serve as director of the Department of Natural Resources. He has held the top post at DNR since 2006.

Zach Jackson to serve as the Republican deputy budget director at the Office of Management and Budget. The office – which will be headed by the previously named Chris Atkins – has a deputy budget director representing each political party. Jackson has been a budget analyst in the office for eight years.

Ryan Streeter to be the governor’s senior economic policy director. Streeter is a distinguished fellow for economic and fiscal policy at the Sagamore Institute and an adjunct professor at Indiana University’s School of Public Policy. He served in the White House as a special assistant for domestic policy to George W. Bush.

Christy Denault to be the governor’s communications director.

 Denault served in that role during the Pence campaign. She previously served in communications positions at Bose Public Affairs Group and in Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman’s office.

Kara Brooks to be the governor’s press secretary and a spokeswoman for his office. Brooks has 12 years of experience in broadcast media and has worked for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works since 2010.

Lt. Gov.-elect Sue Ellspermann said she has picked Dax Norton to head up the Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Norton has eight years of experience in economic development and was a small business owner. He has been the executive director of the Boone County Economic Development Corp. since 2008 and previously led economic development for Blackford County and downtown Greensburg.

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