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83rd District Delegate-elect Tim Anderson pre-files several school safety bills

The Virginia General Assembly session begins Wednesday, January 12.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Tim Anderson is a lot of things.

A gun shop owner, attorney, and most recently the newly-elected Delegate for Virginia's 83rd House District, covering parts of Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

But above all, Anderson considers himself a father first and foremost. 

“I’m very nervous, have been for a long time, that we’re just waiting for the next mass school shooting,” he said.

Before the start of each General Assembly session, lawmakers are allowed to “pre-file” bills, focusing on the issues they find most important. So far, Anderson has filed several bills specifically aimed at improving school safety. 

"When I have an idea I'll create what I think the bill should look like, I'll send it to a team of lawyers that work for the state called the Division of Legislative Services. They'll draft the bill adhering to the code, and we go back and forth," Anderson said. 

Here are a few of the bills that have completed the pre-filing and drafting process, with their legislative summaries:

Veterans as School Resource Officers

In HB 8, Anderson proposes school boards allowing veterans with at least 10 years of active duty military service to be allowed to become a School Resource Officer (SRO).

"Currently veterans can’t serve in that role. That’s a huge injustice because there is a significant amount that would be perfect for that role," Anderson told 13News Now.

Provides that each school security officer, in addition to performing each enumerated duty, is responsible for carrying out any other duty assigned to him by the local school board. The bill permits any local school board or private or religious school to employ as a school security officer any veteran who has served a minimum of 10 years as an active duty member in the Armed Forces of the United States, received an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions from such service, and meets the Department of Criminal Justice Services' minimum certification and training requirements for school security officers.

Limited Entry Points

In HB 12, Anderson proposes schools limit the number of entrances per school building, and screen each person that enters.

“Screen everybody coming in and out of buildings, just like the courts, like the general assembly building. Everybody needs to be screened to make sure guns, knives, and other weapons aren’t being brought into schools," Anderson said.

Requires each local school board to (i) limit to the lowest feasible number the entry points in each public school building in the local school division, (ii) ensure that each individual who seeks to enter any school building in the local school division is screened with a handheld metal detector wand by a school security officer or another appropriate school board employee who is appropriately trained in such method of screening, (iii) require each such school security officer or other appropriate school board employee to implement further screening according to a protocol that it deems appropriate in any case in which the school board employee who conducts the initial screening has reason to believe that the individual who seeks to enter the school building is in possession of a weapon, and (iv) prohibit any individual from entering any school building in the local school division if the individual fails or refuses to submit to the screening required in clauses (ii) and (iii).

Mandated School Resource Officers

In HB 37, Anderson calls for a mandated SRO for every high school and middle school, who would be allowed to serve on the school's threat assessment team.

"One SRO to rotate among five schools at the elementary level. That’s common sense, basic," Anderson said. 

Requires each school board to enter into a collaborative agreement with the local law-enforcement agency to employ at least one school resource officer in each public middle and high school in the local school division and at least one school resource officer per five public elementary schools in the local school division, who is required to serve in each such elementary school on a rotating basis. The bill also requires each division superintendent to include on the threat assessment team established for each public elementary and secondary school in the local school division at least one school resource officer employed in the school. 

Anderson has also pre-filed other school safety bills that are still in the drafting process, including one that introduces a silent alarm system to contact law enforcement in an emergency.

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