After the mass school shooting at Robb Elementary, interest in school marshals grows

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Monday, July 11, 2022
After mass school shooting in Uvalde, interest in school marshals grow
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School districts are showing an increasing interest in the state's marshal program in the aftermath of the tragedy in Uvalde, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KTRK) -- School districts are showing an increasing interest in Texas's marshal program after the tragedy in Uvalde, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

School marshals are employees of a district who have undergone training and carry weapons on campus.

The program was created by the state legislature in 2013.

Still, only 62 out of 1,026 school districts in the state take part in it. That's only 6%.

There are a total of 256 school marshals in the state, according to TCOLE.

Their sole role is to step in in the event of an active shooter on campus, although TCOLE said they have no legal obligation to take action.

"Not everyone is cut out to be a school marshal," Deputy Chief of TCOLE Cullen Grissom said. "Not all teachers or staff are cut out to lead an armed lifestyle in a school."

Grissom said he has seen people start the training and realize they were not cut out for it for a variety of reasons, including not feeling willing or able to shoot someone.

Applicants must be an employee of a school district, hold a license to carry, undergo a psychological evaluation and be approved by the district's board. From there, they are able to take the 80-hour training course.

On Monday at James Garland Walsh Middle School in Round Rock, TCOLE, school-based law enforcement, and school district officials from across the state demonstrated the active shooter training that marshal applicants go through.

In the scenario, adults posed as children sitting at tables in the library. An active shooter entered the library with a rifle and the actors ran screaming. Seconds later, the school marshals came in, shot the active shooter with a modified gun that fires a paint-marking cartridge, and took his gun. From there, law enforcement entered and the marshals identified themselves with their hands in the air.

SEE ALSO: Texas Senator John Cornyn addresses gun safety legislation after Uvalde school massacre

Dr. Benny Soileau, Huffman ISD superintendent, serves as a school marshal.

"I think in these simulation situations, we prepare the best we possibly can," Soileau said. "I don't know that it will ever rise to the true level of an event if you're in that event."

Soileau became a marshal alongside other employees of his district in 2018. For confidentiality reasons, he would not say how many they have in Huffman ISD or who they are.

"We all have concerns about putting guns in our schools, but at the same time we know these events are on the rise and we have to have a way of combatting these," Soileau said.

While Soileau said he hopes they never have to activate their marshal training, he believes they are prepared.

The decision on whether to take part in the program and who will be designated a marshal is left up to each district.

"Look at response times," Soileau said he would suggest to other districts contemplating the program. "I would say that is the first thing that I would say needs to be examined and considered. Even for a police agency, an SRO in a smaller district, where you only have a couple of officers who are making rounds moving from one school to the next, what is that response time? We know that in just a few minutes these events happen."

The state does have grants that cover the cost of the training for aspiring marshals.

Soileau said he does not know if a marshal on campus would have prevented the tragic loss of life in Uvalde but said he hopes that as more details emerge they are able to examine what happen and learn from it.

See full coverage on the Uvalde school shooting.

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