TN legislature takes up several school security bills - WSMV Channel 4

TN legislature takes up several school security bills

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From arming teachers to putting a police officer in every school, the debate on keeping students safe in school is ramping up at the state Capitol.

Many school districts and communities at the local level have already discussed ways to increase school security, but now several bills in the Tennessee Legislature aim to do the same.

There have been at least 10 measures proposed with the goal to keep students safe.

"It's a sad state of affairs when teachers can't teach, principals can't do what they do and students can't do what they're supposed to do and learn, because they're worried about their safety or they have to use valuable school time to train and learn how to remain safe," said State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.

One newly proposed piece of legislation would require Tennessee schools to perform a drill each year so students and faculty can practice what to do if an intruder shows up and makes threats.

"'I'm out in the hall and somebody starts shooting, what should I do,' you know. Are there places to go?" asked state Rep. Steve Hall, R-Knoxville

Another bill would create a special task force to review procedures in schools, and another would establish school safety zones where city police would be required to increase patrols.

"Can stop in unannounced and make their presence known," Fitzhugh said.

There are several more proposals - including one sponsored by State Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville - that would allow teachers to carry guns.

Hall said while they can't prevent everything, they can prepare for it.

"I think it brings some kind of a comfort level, maybe to the kids, that, 'If this happens here, then this is what we'll do,'" Hall said.

Many of the newly proposed bills would place an officer inside every school. The issue is how to pay for it, and Gov. Bill Haslam has already said he doesn't believe the budget could handle it.

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