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Lawmaker Wants Marshals In Texas Schools
Texas State Representative Jason Villalba filed House Bill 1009, the Protection of Texas Children Act. The legislation creates a new subset of law enforcement officer, called School Marshals, who will serve as the last line of defense should an armed attacker threaten the lives of children in public schools.
The School Marshal program will be optional - providing for a rigorous standard of training and certification to expand law enforcement into schools - should a school district choose to participate.
"We knew the air marshal program was successful, and we knew we could implement that into the schools to provide the kinds of protections that we see in the air marshal program," said Villalba.
The program will be optional for school districts, not mandated by the state.
It would expand law enforcement into schools by providing comprehensive and specified training for certain volunteer school employees so that they may serve as licensed law enforcement officers in schools.
"They're not walking the hallways looking for school fights," said Villalba. "They only will act when there is time when the children's lives are threatened."
"The marshals that are on airplanes are all professional law enforcement people, teachers are teachers and that needs to be their first job,” said Hilary Whitfield with One million Moms for Gun Control.
Some worry having a gun at school increases the potential for accidents.
"We want to protect our families and our children and for us that means reducing our exposure to guns not increasing it.”
According to Villalba the School Marshals will only be authorized to act in response to an active shooter or other immediate threat to human life on school grounds. Any firearm accessible to a School Marshal will remain locked in a safe, within immediate reach of the School Marshal, if he or she works in a classroom or in the direct presence of children.
Here are some other main points of the bill -
- Participants in the program will be volunteers - a teacher, administrator, coach, or other member of the faculty - who receives permission from the school administration to serve as a School Marshal.
- The cost of training and certification will be paid by the School Marshal, unless grant money is identified and directed for this purpose. These costs will not paid for out of general state revenue.
- School Marshals will be required to use frangible ammunition, designed to disintegrate upon contact with hard surfaces, minimizing the risk of errant shots that ricochet or might otherwise go through an interior wall.
- School Marshals will be covert - known only to the head school administrator and local law enforcement authorities.
By Adam Racusin