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Bills offer new options to improve school safety

December 19, 2013- Hanson Quickel
HARRISBURG- Two bills drafted by Senator Don White would give local school districts new options to improve student safety.Senate Bill 1193 would give school boards the option of allowing licensed and trained staff to carry firearms on school property. Senate Bill 1194 would allow districts in communities that rely on State Police coverage to contract with municipal police from nearby jurisdictions to provide security in their schools.

 “In the aftermath of a number of tragic school shootings, there is a debate across the country over how to better protect our children,” Senator White said. “While most of this discussion surrounds the broader issue of whether gun control measures are needed, I believe we must further equip our schools with more options when it comes to improving the safety and security of our children, teachers and school staff.”

SB 1193 would allow school personnel to have access to firearms in school safety zones if school districts establish proper guidelines and they are licensed to carry a concealed firearm and have met certain training requirements in the use and handling of firearms.

 “As we weigh our options, I believe we need to consider providing school employees with more choices than just locking a door, hiding in a closet or diving in front of bullets to protect students,” Senator White said. “With the legal authority, licensing and proper training, I believe allowing school administrators, teachers or other staff to carry firearms on the school premises is an option worth exploring. I represent many school districts that are rural, have no access to municipal police departments and rely on an already undermanned Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) force. While the PSP does a tremendous job, some schools face the reality of a delayed response time and may want to consider an option such as outlined in SB 1193.” 

SB 1194 would allow school districts to enter into cooperative police service agreements with local law enforcement outside of the municipality in which the school is located in areas where police services are furnished solely by the Pennsylvania State Police.

 “A number of schools located in municipalities covered by the PSP are geographically within a short distance of local police departments.   My legislation would allow school districts to contract for those services, which will enable additional response in emergency situations, as well as the opportunity for neighboring police departments to build relationships with school personnel and students in their nearby communities.

“Both bills provide school districts with options. In an era of concern over ‘unfunded mandates’, SB 1193 and 1194 provide the opposite – increased flexibility to allow school districts to implement measures to better protect our most precious resource – our children – in a manner that best fits their unique needs,” concluded Senator White.

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