Each of the four commissioners and the county judge nominated one person to the commission, which was approved on June 28 and proposed by Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey.
“They did this in a month,” Ramsey said. “I’ve never seen a group come together like that.”
The appointees include Saami Baig, a high school student at the John Cooper School in The Woodlands; Traci Latson, a teacher at the Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School; Calandrian Simpson Kemp, founder of No Weapon #1Life Empowerment Foundation and member of Moms Demand Action; Humble ISD Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen; and Lisa Andrews Alpe, vice president of the Spring Branch ISD school board.
The commission outlined five main priorities in its recommendations to the court: facilities maintenance, increased communication, standardized emergency training, resource availability and accountability.
Fagen said communication has been a significant challenge since the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999.
“We all have to work together to keep all of our children and all of our staff safe,” Fagen said. “That means everything from basic communication infrastructures, where our transportation centers as well as all first responders have access to up-to-the-minute communication strategies, building maps, etc., all the way through to principals understanding who all their jurisdictional partners are.”
The commission suggested reprogramming all Harris County law enforcement radios for its response operations, which County Judge Lina Hidalgo described as “actionable and thoughtful.”
“I think what you guys represent is we’re not just going to sit on our hands and wait for things to change,” Hidalgo said. “We’re going to do what we can within that framework we’ve been given, and we’re going to try and change the framework.”
Kemp brought the high school graduation robe of her son, George Kemp Jr., who died in 2013 from gun violence, for Baig to put on, saying the work of the commission is about the opportunity to graduate high school.
“This is what your parents have hoped and dreamed for you ever since you were born,” Kemp said. “That’s why the recommendations that we have put together is very important, so Saami can walk across that stage.”
She added the county should hire a countywide incident coordinator to implement the commission’s recommendations.
“All of this stuff is good that we put together, but we want to make sure that we are putting the resources behind to implement to make sure ... we’re coming together to make sure that we are adding meat to what we’re seeing," Kemp said.