The Senate today (April 30) unanimously approved a bill drafted by Senator Don White that would give local school districts the option to contract for police service as a way to improve safety in classrooms and reduce response times in the event of an emergency.
Specifically, Senate Bill 1194 would give public and non-public school districts in communities where police services are furnished solely by the Pennsylvania State Police the option to contract with municipal police from nearby jurisdictions to provide security as well as school resource officers in their schools.
“A number of schools located in municipalities covered by the PSP are geographically within a short distance of local police departments,” Senator White said. “My legislation would allow school districts to contract for those services, which will enable additional response in emergency situations, as well as the opportunity for neighboring police departments to build relationships with school personnel and students in their nearby communities.
When Senator White introduced Senate Bill 1194 on November 22, 2013 with the intent of deterring and responding to school violence, he never imagined that the next incident would occur on April 9 at Franklin Regional High School – a school in his Senatorial District.
“To be clear, had SB 1194 been enacted prior to that tragedy, it would not have prevented it. Franklin Regional School District is already very capably protected by a full-time municipal police force. The first responders who assisted at the scene did their job with the utmost thoroughness and professionalism and they certainly saved lives. I appreciate and am thankful for their service,” Senator White said.
“However, many of our 500 school districts and many of Pennsylvania’s private schools do not have local police coverage immediately available and they would certainly benefit from the options provided by my bill,” Senator White continued.
SB 1194 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.