First school marshals begin training in Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Seven teachers and school administrators are undergoing firearms training in Fort Worth so they can have access to guns on campus.

The first class of school marshals began training Monday in an 80-hour program at Tarrant County College’s Northwest campus. The nine-day course will cover gun use, violence prevention and active-shooter scenarios.

The state legislature created the new class of law enforcement last year through the Protection of Texas Children Act, sponsored by state Rep. Jason Villalba. The Dallas Republican said the marshals will protect schools against violent attacks similar to the 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

“They are to respond when there is deadly force only,” Rafael Perea, a college police academy instructor, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “This is not about responding to any kind of disturbance on their job, such as parking issues.”

School districts and charter schools are allowed to place one armed marshal on campus for every 400 students. They will have the authority of a police officer and can make arrests. Potential marshals must be employed by a school district or public charter school, have a concealed handgun license and be appointed by their board of trustees. The employee must pass the training and take continuing education.

School districts have not released the names of the employees taking part in the program.

Perea said the course costs about $400 per person and that he expects more training to take place in August.

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