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School marshals could ease worries about violence

New law allows training, possession of weapons

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With violence in San Antonio schools threatened for Thursday, state Rep. Jose Menendez is reminding school districts of his support of the school marshal program passed by the legislature.

Menendez said the law allows districts have a staff member who has had law enforcement training serve as the school marshal.

This person would have access to a locked weapon on campus that could be used in case violence breaks out.

Menendez mentioned the incident in Pennsylvania in early April in which 20 people were stabbed by a student.

He questions what would have happened if there had been a school marshal on campus who could have reacted to the situation.

"Rather than 20 people stabbed, it could have been one or two people stabbed, maybe three, depending if they had a marshal and there was a quick response," Menendez said. "Rather than allowing (an attacker) to stab an innocent child or teacher, we need to be able to protect (the school). The schools need to be able to protect all of the children."

The law Menendez helped pass requires that only the principal and higher-ups would know the marshal's identity.

"The reason I supported this bill is because I thought it was important to give schools all the tools that they could have," Menendez said. "As a parent of young children in schools, I would like to have the schools have every opportunity to protect our children."

KSAT 12 contacted the Northside, North East, San Antonio, Seguin, Judson, Edgewood and Somerset school districts, and none have plans to put the marshal program into effect.

Menendez said where the program may be most beneficial is in the rural areas where law enforcement officers are farther away.

"There are schools potentially in smaller communities where having law enforcement in a very quick way would be potentially difficult," Menendez said.

Eddie Gonzales, the KSAT 12 Crime Expert, agreed marshals may be of more use in rural areas.

"I definitely believe so, particularly in the rural school districts where the law enforcement, where the police or sheriff's response time would be, could be delayed," Gonzales said.

He also agreed with the plan to not make the identity of school marshals public or even known within the school.

Gonzales said that could make the marshal a target.

"With concealed handguns, not knowing who's there, if a person goes into a school they'll never know who they're going to be encountering," Gonzales said.

With school attacks like the one in Pennsylvania, delays when someone is armed with a knife or gun in a school can be deadly.