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Mississippi has a school safety act in place that requires active shooter drills every semester

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 10:20 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi has a law on the books that’s a response by the legislature to previous school shootings.

From a practical standpoint, a lot of the districts were already doing trainings and drills by 2019. But the law makes it a requirement from kindergarten on up to 12th grade.

”I feel comfortable and confident that we have something in place,” noted Rep. John Faulkner. “But we don’t want something to happen, God forbid, to find out how prepared we are. But you want to be prepared just in case because that’s the world we live in today.”

Rep. John Faulkner was one of the co-authors on the legislation that requires districts to do active shooter drills within the first 60 days of each semester. It goes beyond that with other training requirements for teachers and staff, including those that are focused on mental health.

“We just have to remain vigilant,” added Lauderdale County Superintendent Dr. John Mark Cain. “And we remind our people all the time, you know, safety is not convenient, we have to make it a priority. You know, those parents drop off those students to us each and every day [and] expect us to do our best. And that’s what we try to do.”

Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell explains that funding has been added to better assist the efforts at a state level.

“I can tell you that the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, as it stands right now, has been interviewing candidates to help lead those efforts regionally, to work with schools and develop these plans,” described Commissioner Tindell. “And also to do Intel analysts work and try to coordinate efforts to if you see something, say something, and make sure that if somebody is having some instabilities or mental health crisis, that we can identify them early and address the issue to try to prevent things like this from happening.”

The law also boosted the amount of money going to the MCOPS program and funding of school resource officers who are required to have specific training beyond being a state certified law enforcement officer.

“They must then maintain 40 hours of continuing education for each calendar year,” explained Brian McGairty, Mississippi Department of Education Director of Safe and Orderly Schools. “So, just to kind of compare that patrolmen that may be working the streets for municipality, they’re only required to have 24 hours, whereas your ones working in actual schools are required to have if they’re certified SROs, are required to have 40 hours. And that’s just the minimum.”

There is not a requirement for schools to have school resource officers. But MDE noted that each district handles that security differently: some have their own campus police force and others partner with local law enforcement to provide the security needed.

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