Some staff at Abilene ISD already armed

President Donald Trump doubled down on his support for arming teachers in the classroom. He made the statement during his speech Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland.

Something a lot of people may not know is that there are armed staff members at Abilene ISD's schools.

Abilene ISD safety coordinator Dan Cottner said that the school district has a school marshal program that was implemented in 2015.

There's been a lot of discussion nationwide about whether or not teachers should be armed at schools.

"Especially with recent events, we've explored the possibility of further enhancing our abilities to defend our staff and our students," Cottner said.

Recent events, like the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead on Feb. 14, have sparked a great deal of debate across the country.

"Our state legislator, I believe, is ahead of the curve there, in that we've already addressed the situation,” Cottner said. “We're not starting from scratch. We can build on what we have."

School Marshals must first pass a proficiency exam as far as psychological testing and if they are cleared, then they must go through 80 hours of training with law enforcement. Here in Abilene, they train side-by-side with the Abilene Police Department.

Their training regiment includes training handgun qualifications, tactical training in dealing with an active shooter and first aid training for mass casualty events.

At the end of their training program, they must pass a written test to become certified.

Cottner said the cost is approximately $400 per candidate to take the course.

“You wanna make sure that they are an individual that can, number one, handle the stress dealing with that situation, and number two, wants to participate in the program,” Cottner said.

School marshals can be teachers or administrators and they have to be approved by the school board.

If the School Marshal has regular contact with students, their firearm must remain in a locked safe. They are only allowed to use their firearm to protect staff members and students in an active threat situation.

All School Marshals must also remain anonymous. Abilene ISD is not allowed to say how many School Marshals they have, but there can be up to one School Marshal for every 200 students.

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