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Senate education committee passes bill requiring schools develop armed intruder drills

A police officer wearing a vest that says "police" talks into a walkie talkie while standing outside a school.
In 2013, Monroe County Community School Corporation conducted a mock active shooter drill at Jackson Creek Middle School. House Bill 1104 would set guidelines for schools to develop a protocol for these drills.

A Senate committee advanced a bill Wednesday that would require public schools to develop a protocol for armed intruder drills. Several school safety advocates testified in support of the bill, but some lawmakers worry the drills could negatively impact students and staff.

House Bill 1104 would set guidelines for drills that include accommodating students who have mobility restrictions, sensory needs and auditory or visual limitations.

It also would also restrict drills that include sensory components, like fake gunshots or a prop firearm, from taking place during regular school hours when a majority of students are present. Students and staff members would not be required to participate in such drills.

Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis) said he’s heard concern that, even with restrictions, the drills could traumatize students and staff.

“Why not completely get rid of that and, during the school day hours, just keep the training that does not involve these components?” he asked.

Rep. Michelle Davis (R-Whiteland), the bill’s author, said the proposal tries to reduce harm as much as possible.

“During the school day when students and staff are there, we are not doing these,” she said. “We are not allowing these types of drills to be done. We’re doing it like on a Saturday or an evening.”

READ MORE: How do teachers prepare for and prevent school shootings?

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Davis said allowing law enforcement to perform drills in schools better prepares them in case of a real emergency.

“I want them to know where building A3, door five is if something’s happening,” she said.

The bill also includes provisions for public schools that hire school resource officers to participate in the 1977 Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Retirement Fund. It is now headed to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Kirsten is our education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.

Kirsten the Indiana Public Broadcasting education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.