AUSTIN -- New legislation filed at the Texas Capitol paves the way for a new type of law enforcement at Texas schools.
Filed Wednesday morning, House Bill 1009 creates a "school marshal" program.
“What we do here is create a new class, a new licensed law enforcement officer to serve in the classroom, serve in school, serve on the school premises,” said Representative Jason Villalba, (R) Dallas.
According to the legislation filed by Representative Villalba, Texas school districts could opt into the program and appoint school marshals to serve on campus.
Villalba got the official stamp Wednesday morning at the Chief Clerk’s Office of the House of Representatives. The 11-page bill opens the voluntary position to any faculty member including principals, teachers, coaches - even custodians.
According to the bill, any employee who wants to serve as school marshal must undergo 80 hours of intensive training.
“We have active shooter training. We have psychological profiling and evaluation. We have a number of different safeguards to make sure that those who serve in this role are licensed and have the same kinds of training as if you were undergoing a police academy training,” said Representative Villalba.
Villalba says he developed the legislation, dubbed the Protection of Texas Children Act, in hopes of closing a gap in response time in the case of an emergency from minutes to seconds.
“I have a six-year-old daughter in the independent public school system in Dallas, and I know when I drop her off I am deeply concerned about her safety,” explained Villalba.
Schools would be limited to one marshal for every 400 students. Their weapon would remain under lock and key, but within immediate reach. Their ammunition must be designed to disintegrate upon contact with hard surfaces, limiting the risk of shots that might ricochet or go through a wall.
It's a covert position. Only school administrators and law enforcement would know the identity of each marshal on campus.
The cost for training would fall on whoever volunteers to serve as school marshal. Districts could, however, chose to reimburse them for training.
Under the bill, the State of Texas would pay to develop the training program and manuals.
Representative Villalba says he's already getting strong support from others at the State Capitol.