Mark Luera of Williamson County is a consultant working with school safety companies. In the following article, Mr. Luera discusses new safety protocols and advancements in school safety.
As America perseveres in the wake of national tragedy, the spotlight is again placed on what measures are being instilled to ensure the safety of our children in schools. Though a number of these advancements have been in development for some time, it’s in the country’s darkest moments where they’re called to question.
State and local governments and national leaders alike are feeling the heat of angered citizens asking them to vocalize their next steps. From funding, school uniform requirements, to training protocols, the call for safety systems in America’s educational institutions is only on the rise says Mark Luera.
Though the tragic Robb elementary school shooting occurred more than a month ago, the air of Uvalde, Texas is still thick with community mourning and the fear that, without action, it’s only a matter of time until an event like this happens again explains Mark Luera of Williamson County. With 10-year-old Leticia Garcia being laid to rest earlier this week, that marks the end of the burial services of the victims.
There are calls for schools to hire training companies like ALICE to come to institutions before the start of the official start of the school year to teach faculty and staff about the proper guidelines for handling active shooter situations. Older aged schoolchildren (16-18) are also thought to benefit from these drills says Mark Luera of Williamson County.
Some Texas schools are already making distinct changes to their policies that will be set into motion during the 2022-2023 school year. The most notable of which is requiring all students to switch to clear backpacks, so that authorities and faculty will easily be able to see if anyone is carrying questionable products.
School Security Spending
Mark Luera of Williamson County explains that at the start of this year, Millcreek Township in PA was approved for a $500,000 grant underneath the Stop School Violence Act to enhance safety in their schools. The funds can be used in conjunction with local law enforcement to provide locks and security for their schools, as well as other deterrent measures.
Unfortunately, these funds must be applied for, and approval rates can vary. The sad reality is that, in the amount of time it takes for a district to be awarded the money it needs to keep schoolchildren out of harm’s way, another tragic event can unfold. This is money that all schools should have access to says Mark Luera of Williamson County.
In the south, there’s controversy surrounding what the appropriate measures are when it comes to securing school grounds. There are mentions of the Republican call to “harden” schools by arming guards and heightening security measures, but the masses are voicing that this isn’t going to do anything but inhibit the environment people send their children to.
There are several news outlets voicing their distaste for the “hardening” of our educational institutions, saying that schools like Robb Elementary were already “hard” and still fell victim to lethal circumstances. Instead of placing focus on schools, society is calling for lawmakers to push for stricter gun laws.
Mark Luera of Williamson County says that there is public outrage surrounding how the police force in Uvalde handled the shooter, or rather, how they didn’t. Word began to leak about the Texas police force fell short that day- from how they drove past the perpetrator, to how they waited more than 60 minutes to enter the school to confront the shooter.
When questioned about their plans in handling school shootings in particular, Dr. John Nicoletti, in a 2014 pamphlet, said that “they were already there”- meaning schools had enough resources and assistance from the police to keep them safe. However, with there being 45 school shootings since this pamphlet’s release, it’s clear that schools are in fact not there with the police force.
Police stations are beginning to brush back up on the importance of active shooter drills. The Sarasota Police Department is undergoing active shooter drills as part of its yearly SNAP Evaluation training. With instances of school shootings on the up and up, these trainings only get more realistic and immersive. Other police stations are urged to follow suit explains Mark Luera of Williamson County.
President Joe Biden signed the most consequential gun control bill in the past thirty years on June 25, 2022- which heightens background checks on young gun buyers, calling on states to look more closely at suspicious orders (large amounts of ammo, high artillery weapons), and suspicious individuals.
Mark Luera of Williamson County explains that this law also makes the “boyfriend” loophole, or the loophole that allows domestic abusers to purchase guns (while only having dated their intended victim), obsolete. With individuals having notable instances of violence under their belt, it’s important to keep guns out of their hands to prevent them from harming others- including those in schools. The bill also funds mental health programs, as well as other school safety initiatives.
The passing of this bill marks a significant moment in history, but did it come too late? Only time will tell if these grants, protocols, and dress codes will make a difference in reducing the number of lives lost in our country’s school system, or if there are more potent changes to be made in our legislation to prove effective states Mark Luera.