Utah lawmakers pushing for greater school safety measures

Jan 27, 2023, 7:22 PM | Updated: Jan 28, 2023, 2:20 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers are pushing for change in order to protect our students in schools.

Sen. Karen Kwan was at the Capitol Thursday when her daughter texted this: “There’s a lockout. Some sort of threat around our school.”

It’s a message no parent wants to get.

“I don’t think anything will happen, but if it does, I love you both,” continued the text from Kwan’s daughter.

The shooting that occurred outside of Taylorsville High School Thursday brought an urgency to the $12 million Kwan is pushing for to help the Granite School District with security.

UPDATE: Three in custody after shots fired at Taylorsville High School, police said

“It will also allocate funds for mental health,” she said.

Helping students is the focus of Rep. Ryan Wilcox’s bill on school safety. HB61 would create a School Security Task Force and a state security position to oversee training.

“To ensure that each of those agencies are trained, that each of the teachers in those schools are prepared, that they understand their role if and when this happens, so that if and when it happens, we’re not caught unawares, we’re not caught unprepared,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox said they’ll ask the Task Force to conduct an in-depth study by November to see what school districts need.

“But we’re not also willing to wait another day when we saw that yesterday how important it is that we’re on the ball here,” he said. 

As Wilcox and his team bring the bill together, the Statewide Information and Analysis Center, or SIAC, has been working on training for the 200 school resource officers across the state.

“We feel pretty confident that one of the best ways to manage and look for instances of potential targeted violence is through what we call threat assessment and management. And so we’ll utilize what we call a structured professional judgment tool,” said Lt. Nick Street with SIAC.

SIAC and other agencies are on board with Wilcox’s safety bill.

“It’s on our thoughts every day to ensure that we’re making Utah schools as safe as they can,” Street said.

A message for all.

“My daughter thinking this might be the last time she’ll text me, no child should have to do that,” Kwan said.

Wilcox said his bill is expected to go before the House next week, adding that this is just the beginning of what he hopes will make school a safer place for our students.

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Utah lawmakers pushing for greater school safety measures