State and local leaders meet in Waco to discuss school safety
WACO, Texas (KWTX) -In light of the tragic events in Uvalde that claimed the lives of 21 people, local and state officials are searching for answers about what it takes to keep our students, families, and school staff safe.
”Public safety and specifically school safety has never been more of a paramount issue than it is right now,” McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said.
Dozens of people packed a room at TSTC Friday with the goal of bringing together law enforcement, elected officials, educators, and community members to talk about their concerns, procedures, and training to find out what can be done to increase school safety.
”To come together as a community to make sure we are implementing good strategic practices from a holistic perspective on the intervention and prevention side, all the way to heaven forbid, a response,” Waco Mayor Dillon Meek said.
The hope is having local, county, and state leaders sharing their knowledge collectively will lead to a more united front against violence.
“Today we are not trying to give answers,” Congressman Pete Sessions said. “Today is about a resolve that we have that we recognize that better training, better collaboration, hearing from experts, sharing information, and developing our plan to work together. That’s what today is about.”
”What we are trying to do is learn as much as we can from everyone here at the meeting, and then we are focusing on how we do we push out the training from the specialized units we have that apply to the schools,” Cody Blossman with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office said. Blossman supervises the SWAT team, FAST unit, narcotics unit, and criminal intelligence unit.
Law enforcement and other officials say timing is key.
“We do have a little downtime with schools being out for summer break so we are going to do everything we can to utilize this time to meet with other agencies,” Sheriff Parnell McNamara said.
“It’s really critical that all of the school stakeholders are coming together this summer to review their emergency operations plans, reviewing what they are doing in terms of their prevention and mitigation efforts all the way to ensuring that they have the most effective response should something happen on their campus,” said Dr. Kathy Prather, Texas State University’s Director Texas School Safety Center.
Following Friday’s meeting, the next steps forward are to take the concerns and ideas brought forward and divide into groups to make recommendations.
The hope is to also have community involvement because it takes everyone to increase safety. Congressman Sessions said they will host town hall meetings and conversations with school PTA members.
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