Nashville to consider SAFE School Act; Bill honoring shooting victims passes senate

Published 1:39 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

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A bill establishing a $900 million grant program to widen the berth for the training and hiring of more school safety officers is being introduced in the state legislature.

U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) are sponsoring the Securing Aid for Every (SAFE) School ActIf adopted, the bill will allow both public and private schools to train and hire veterans and former law enforcement officers to serve as school safety officers. The bill also calls for the hiring of off-duty law enforcement officers and provides funding to “harden” schools and increase physical security.
Blackburn introduced similar legislation in the prior Congress. The SAFE School Act is supported by Tennessee leaders, school safety advocates and veterans along with local, state and federal law enforcement officials and organizations.
“I am beyond heartbroken at the shooting that occurred at the Covenant School in Nashville,” said Blackburn. “No parent should have to endure what these families are experiencing. Schools should be places where children are safe to learn, play and be children. By providing these critical funds, we can help protect our precious children and secure our schools.”

Blackburn and Hagerty introduced a bill just days after the March 27 shooting that occurred at the Covenant School in Nashville. That resolution, which has passed the Senate floor, was drafted to honor the victims’ memories. The bill also expresses gratitude to the brave first responders who acted quickly in the line of duty.

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“My heart is broken over the unspeakable evil that occurred Monday at The Covenant School in Nashville, and my family and I are grieving along with those who lost loved ones,” said Blackburn. “Now is a time for our community to come together in prayer and lift one another up. We must remember the joy these victims brought into the world and honor those who confronted evil. We join the entire nation in commending the brave police officers who willingly ran toward danger without hesitation, putting their lives on the line to save others. They showed true professionalism, courage and selflessness – the very definition of heroism. As Nashville grieves and navigates the difficult days ahead, may we come together to cover our community in prayer, love and support.”

Hagerty added his thoughts.

“This week, the Covenant School community, the city of Nashville, and our home state of Tennessee suffered a depraved act of evil resulting in heartbreaking devastation and unspeakable loss. We mourn with the victims’ families and Covenant School community, who are enduring unimaginable grief. We applaud the incredible bravery of the law enforcement officers and first responders who ran toward danger without hesitation, willingly putting their lives on the line to save the lives of others. And we honor the precious lives taken, whose memories will be enshrined indelibly in our hearts.”

Blackburn and Hagerty included the following takeaways in the resolution:

  • Honors the memories of the victims of the “senseless and cowardly attack” at The Covenant School on March 27, 2023, and offers heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to the families, loved ones, friends and church family of the victims;
  • Recognizes the strength and resilience of The Covenant School community, the City of Nashville and the state of Tennessee;
  • Expresses deep gratitude to the first responders, including police officers, emergency medical personnel, fire department officials and state and federal agents and officers including Nashville Police Chief John Drake, “whose incredible bravery prevented the loss of additional life”; and
  • Applauds the heroism displayed by the officers, including Officers Rex Englebert and Michael Collazo, “who willingly ran toward danger, putting their lives on the line to save others.”