Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said he plans to expand the school safety measure to include hiring school resource officers at every school in the state after the shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville.
The governor’s plan comes after a 28-year-old transgender man opened fire in a… Covenant School Six people were killed, including three children. Law enforcement killed the suspect.
Lee opened up about the emotional impact the shooting had on the community.
“I think we all understand when people are afraid, when people are angry, when people are critical. I have the same feelings myself, we all get it,” Lee told The Tennessean. “We have an obligation, and I have an obligation, to do what I can and work with leaders across this community to address people’s concerns and protect our children in any way we can.”
The governor’s plan would expand a proposal to place an armed guard, also known as a school resource officer, at each location Public school in Tennessee and providing government funding for private schools to employ armed guards.
Under this proposal, which must be approved by the state legislature, private schools would be required to hire guards who had the same level of training as the public school requirements. However, private schools will not have to take advantage of the program.
Lee issued a similar executive order last year and pushed a new school safety plan in his State of the State address earlier this year. State lawmakers have in recent weeks considered the new proposal, which includes penalties for public schools found to have security violations.
The governor’s proposed initial budget this year included $20 million for school building security updates. He also plans to propose expanding this fund with additional funds for private schools.
The new plan will also seek additional mental health support through the school’s behavioral health relations officers. Lee previously established a $250 million mental health “trust fund” that has yet to be spent.
“Mental health concerns are something we must continue to invest in,” he told me. “There will be inclusive conversations about students’ mental health and mental health in general. Supporting those who need help, and who have actually become a threat to themselves or others.”
ERPO, also known as “red flag” laws, is in effect in nearly 20 US states, but Lee would not explicitly commit to such a measure. Under “red flag” laws, authorities can resort to a civil legal order to disarm someone for a limited time if they are found to pose a significant danger to themselves or others.
“Most practical and thoughtful people believe that individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others should not obtain guns,” he told me. “From my point of view, this is a practical and considered approach.”
The students were nine-year-olds Evelyn Dickow, Haley Scruggs and William Kenny Killed in the shooting Along with Principal Katherine Consey, 60, substitute teacher Cynthia Beck, 61, and Ranger Mike Hill, 61.