This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
ROUND ROCK, Texas (Nexstar) — The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) is working to expand its marshal officer training this summer after the Uvalde school shooting killed 19 students and two teachers in May.
On Monday, TCOLE did active shooter simulations at Round Rock’s Walsh Middle School.
These scenarios are part of the training for school-based law enforcement and marshals. They are designed to give law enforcement and marshals practice in handling active shooter situations, keeping composure and providing first aid.
“Everybody dies today,” a participant acting as an active shooter said as he stormed through the library doors at the middle school.
Shots were fired, and there were hectic screams from other participants pretending to be students. Seconds after the shooter in the simulation entered the library, two school marshals ran in to stop him.
The guns and bullets are fake, but the intensity is very real.
As the simulation continued, school police officers came in after the marshals. From there, the marshals identified themselves.
“School resource officer,” one participant yelled with his hands up in the air, dropping to his knees in surrender.
Police entering pretended they didn’t know who was an active threat. “Hands up,” police yelled.
“You learn how to control your emotions and your breathing,” Dr. Benny Soileau, a school marshal officer and superintendent for Huffman ISD, said. “All of those things that come along with even watching a situation like this.”
Soileau went through training similar to the simulation Monday.
“If you have a bad guy with a gun, you got to address it,” Soileau said.
Any employee of a school district can become a marshal officer. Requirements include:
- Complete the school-based law enforcement course #4064
- Complete the active shooter response for school-based law enforcement course #2195
- Obtain a school-based law enforcement proficiency certificate from TCOLE
- Have a current license to carry
- Approval by a governing body
- Pass a psychological exam
- Complete the 80-hour school marshal course
- Submit school marshal appointment form and fee
- Complete 16-hour renewal course every two years
“Some marshals have very little training coming into the program, some marshals have some former military background. We see a lot of former law enforcement,” Cullen Grissom, TCOLE’s deputy chief, said.
After Uvalde, TCOLE doubled the number of marshal trainings it offers from two to four this summer.
“There’s been an elevated interest, more calls to our office, more inquiries about what, at the district level, does a school district have to do to institute a marshal program,” Grissom said.
Right now, there are 256 marshals in the state in 62 districts. Those behind the program are hoping more people sign up to add to those numbers.
“We know that that moment may come and we want to be mentally prepared,” Soileau said.
The state does pay for training for marshal officers, however, a district has to pay for travel to where it is being held.
It could take up to two months for someone who goes through the program to become certified. There is no limit on how many a school can have.
TCOLE said it hasn’t modified any of its trainings since Uvalde.