Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said he intends to expand a school safety measure to include the placement of school resource officers at every school in the state after the shooting at a Christian school Private Nashville.
The governor’s plan comes after a 28-year-old transgender person opened fire in the Covenant school, killing six people, including three children. Law enforcement killed the suspect.
Lee spoke of the emotional impact the shooting left on the community.
“I think we all understand when people are scared, when people are angry, when people go wild. I have those same emotions myself, we all have them,” Lee told the Tennessean. “We have an obligation, I have an obligation, to do what I can and work with the leaders of this community to address people’s concerns and protect our children in any way possible.”
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The governor’s plan would expand a proposal to place an armed guard, otherwise known as a school resource officer, in every public school in Tennessee and provide public funding for private schools to hire an armed guard.
Under the proposal, which is expected to be approved by the state legislature, private schools would be required to hire guards with the same level of training as public school requirements. However, private schools will not be forced to take advantage of the program.
Lee issued a similar executive order last year and pushed for a new school safety plan in his state of the state address earlier this year. State lawmakers have in recent weeks considered the new proposal, which includes penalties for public schools found guilty of safety violations.
The governor’s original budget proposal this year included $20 million for school building security upgrades. He also plans to offer to expand this fund with additional funds for private schools.
The new plan would also seek additional mental health support through school-based behavioral health liaisons. Lee previously created a $250 million “trust fund” for mental health that has yet to be spent.
“Mental health issues are something we need to continue to invest in,” Lee said. “There will be conversations at all levels about student mental health and mental health in general. And support for those who need help and who actually become a threat to themselves or others. “
Extreme Risk Protection (ERPO) legislation, also known as “red flag” laws, is in place in nearly 20 US states, but Lee would not explicitly commit to such a measure. Under “red flag” laws, authorities can pursue a civil court order to remove a person’s weapons for a limited time if they are found to pose a high risk to themselves or others. others.
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“Most practical, thoughtful people think that individuals who are a threat to themselves or others shouldn’t have access to guns,” Lee said. “In my opinion, it’s a practical and thoughtful approach.”
Nine-year-old students Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney were killed in the shootout along with school principal Katherine Koonce, 60, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, and caretaker Mike Hill, 61 .