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State lawmakers discuss school safety bill

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Millions of dollars are up for grabs to help keep kids safe at school. Money that could be used for things such as hiring more police officers, conducting active shooter drills and offering mental health services to students in schools.

Republican state Rep. Wendy McNamara, from Evansville, has an insider’s understanding of school security.

She’s a high school principal and her school district already does active shooter drills, called ALICE drills.

“You look for the active threat. You lock down, you barricade, you put things on the door,” McNamara explained. “You turn the lights off. You evacuate, if you can. If there’s an active threat, you do everything you can to fight back.”

That’s why McNamara filed a bill that would unlock millions of dollars in grants to help schools pay for things like hiring more officers in schools and threat assessments.

“Threat assessments are vital tools, as they can expose security gaps that may exhibit, or if not be found in school grounds,” Bryan J. Langley, Executive Director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security explained Wednesday.

The bill would also provide mental health services for students, plus give high schoolers the option to take a voluntary risk behavior survey.

“Knowing what issues our student population is struggling with, and to what extent, will guide them in implementing preventative interventions and programs, which can decrease the risk of an adverse event occuring,” Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana State Health Commissioner said.

Wednesday, some people voiced concerns about that survey, calling it “invasive.”

Even so, McNamara sees the bill as a way to help keep children safe.

“These are not things we take lightly,” McNamara said. “These are things we’re asking for as a community to help secure our schools; help our kids feel safe when they come in the doors every day.”