CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – A bill that would allow honorably discharged veterans, retired state troopers, deputy sheriffs, and federal law enforcement officers to protect West Virginia schools has passed in the Senate.
Senate Bill 282, introduced by Senator Eric Tarr (R-Putnam), would establish the West Virginia Guardian Program.
The program would allow county boards of education to contract with honorably discharged veterans, retired state troopers, retired deputy sheriffs, or retired federal law enforcement officers to provide West Virginia Guardian Services.
The purpose of the contract is to provide public safety, and or security on public school grounds and buildings.
According to the bill, public safety or security means the protection of students, faculty, and staff of a public school from violence, bullying, theft, substance abuse, sale or use of illegal substances, exposure to weapons, and threats on school grounds.
The “Guardian” may carry a concealed weapon upon meeting all requirements. Guardians will not act as law enforcement and will not have the authority to perform an arrest.
Senator Tarr says that this bill will not mandate county boards of education to hire “West Virginia Guardians.”
“It is permissive by counties, no county has to participate in this,” Tarr said. “If they want to run a levy to do this, they can run a levy and do this in their schools, if they wanted safer schools in their county,” Tarr explained.
Potential Guardians must provide proof of current U.S. and West Virginia residency, possess a high school diploma or GED, hold a concealed carry permit, and pass the law enforcement professional standards program at the West Virginia State Police Academy.
The bill passed on a 32-0 vote with two members absent. Senate Bill 282 now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration.