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Wylie ISD has trained armed staff

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Abilene ISD and Wylie ISD have armed staff on their campuses as part of a School Marshal Program to keep students safe.

Craig Bessent, Wylie ISD’s assistant superintendent, said this program is more than just about teachers and guns.

The School Marshal Program was implemented in Wylie ISD in 2015. This allows some district employees to have a firearm on campus and only use it if there’s an active threat.

“There's a lot debate on teachers and guns and I would say, you know that this really is not what we say,” Bessent said. “We want our teachers to teach and we want our security people to be secure.”

These school marshals have one job when it comes to keeping staff and students safe. If there’s an active threat, they’re told they have 30 seconds to engage the threat. They must isolate, distract, and neutralize the threat while buying time for officers to arrive.

The school marshals have 80 hours of training with Abilene police and they must take a psychological test every two years.

Bessent said Abilene police and the school marshals must interact with each other.

"They're gonna be on the scene, too, and so they wanna know how those trained people are gonna react and have the same methods, same terminology, be able to link up, work together and make it a better situation," Bessent said.

The training isn't just for active shooters, according to Bessent. It includes any active threat that can cause bodily injury.

The school marshals have to volunteer to become one, but then they have to be approved by the school board.

Bessent said Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge also has a say on who gets chosen.

"We're lucky to be in Abilene and to have a police department that is worried and cares about our students and about our teachers and our parents," Bessent said.

If there's ever a threat at any of the schools in Wylie ISD, Bessent said the school marshals should be the first to respond.

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