Blackburn, Hagerty Introduce SAFE School Act

March 30, 2023

U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) will be introducing the Securing Aid for Every (SAFE) School Act. The SAFE School Act establishes a $900 million grant program that will allow both public and private schools to train and hire veterans and former law enforcement officers to serve as school safety officers, hire off duty law enforcement officers, and provide funding to harden schools and increase physical security. 

This legislation continues Senator Blackburn’s efforts to keep our children safe at school. Senator Blackburn introduced similar legislation in the prior Congress. The SAFE School Act is supported by Tennessee leaders, school safety advocates, and veterans, along with local, state and federal law enforcement officials and organizations.

“I am beyond heartbroken at the shooting that occurred at the Covenant School in Nashville,” said Senator Blackburn. “No parent should have to endure what these families are experiencing. Schools should be places where children are safe to learn, play, and be children. My legislation with Senator Hagerty will allow both public and private schools to train and hire veterans and former law enforcement officers to serve as school safety officers as well as increase physical security measures to harden schools. By providing these critical funds, we can help protect our precious children and secure our schools.”

Click here to view Senator Blackburn’s video remarks.

“The Covenant School community, the city of Nashville, and our home state of Tennessee have suffered unspeakable, heartbreaking loss this week, and I join the families of the victims and all those affected in mourning this incomprehensible tragedy,” said Senator Hagerty. “The heroic bravery of law enforcement officers and first responders who quickly ran into danger, as well as the actions of teachers, staff, and students who deployed security measures, saved many other lives and underscore the critical role of school-security planning and personnel in the face of depraved, evil acts. That’s why I’ve joined Senator Blackburn in introducing this legislation to provide additional security resources to keep our schools and children safe.”

Leaders Across The State Of Tennessee Support Blackburn And Hagerty’s SAFE School Act:

“Maria and I continue to mourn the loss of precious life and pray for the Covenant School community amid unspeakable tragedy,” said Governor Bill Lee. “Nothing is more important than our students safely returning home from school every day. At the state level, Tennessee is taking significant action to strengthen physical security at schools, support law enforcement, engage parents and boost mental health resources. As Tennessee moves forward, I commend Senators Blackburn and Hagerty for proposing legislation to secure public and private schools across the nation.”

“My heart remains broken for the Covenant School families, the school and church community, and all of Nashville as they continue to grieve an incomprehensible loss,” said Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti. “There is no greater responsibility than keeping our children safe. I commend Senators Blackburn and Hagerty for taking legislative steps to maximize security for schools in Tennessee and around the nation.”

“It’s common sense: our children should be able to learn in safe environments and come home at the end of each day,” said Mayor Scott Conger, Jackson, Tenn. “I thank Senators Blackburn and Hagerty for their leadership on this necessary effort to increase the number of highly trained safety officers and enhance physical security in our schools. Together, we can take immediate action to protect our children.” 

“I’m grateful to know that our U.S. Senators are working to make more resources available in our state to protect our students and educators,” said Mayor Chad Graham, Bedford County, Tenn.

Local, State And Federal Law Enforcement Officials Are Praising The Bill:

“Any effort to detect, deter, and prevent these kinds of attacks is vitally important,”said David B. Rausch, Director, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. “Providing specially-trained, armed professionals to more schools and more funding to ensure these facilities are as secure as possible are two immediate steps we can take. I appreciate Senator Blackburn’s leadership, in the wake of this week’s tragedy, to champion this legislation, as one part of the broader conversation needed in this country to work toward curbing this kind of senseless violence.”

“Senators Hagerty and Blackburn have crafted legislation that, if enacted, would immediately contribute to making schools in the state of Tennessee safer for our children,” said James A. Gagliano, Retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent. “My quarter-century in the FBI was instructive in methods to combat violent crime. Evil typically takes the path of least resistance. The establishment of a training program for military veterans and former law enforcement personnel would ensure that no school facility would be without the deterrent effect of an armed, trained, and committed professional to protect our children. This legislation dedicates funding necessary to transform the abstraction of ‘improved safety measures’ into reality. I applaud both senators for their vision and commitment to enhancing school security.”

“As Sheriff of Hamilton County, Tennessee, my office is committed to maintaining a safe and secure learning environment for our children and school staff,” said Sheriff Austin Garrett, Hamilton County, Tenn. “I commend my friend, Senator Marsha Blackburn, for her efforts to introduce the Securing Aid for Every (SAFE) School Act, which is intended to offer essential grant-based funding to train and hire security personnel to protect our schools. Our children have the right to a safe educational environment and when it comes to their protection, we as elected officials and community leaders have a duty and obligation to ensure we are doing everything within our power, working together, to support and ensure their safety.”

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our school children and the future they hold,” said Sheriff Eddie Farris, Putnam County, Tenn. “Anything we as law enforcement and citizens can do to protect our children and their educators and maintain a safe learning environment is a must. This legislation by both of Tennessee's Senators, Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, is a win and another step in the right direction in protecting our most precious resources.”

“As the Sheriff of Montgomery County, TN, I have always felt a strong obligation and responsibility to assist and provide resources to maintain a safe environment for the public and private schools in my county. Throughout my tenure, we have constantly researched, developed, and implemented methods to increase school safety. This has included, among other things, progressively increasing the presence of School Resource Officers in our public schools, while providing training and other assistance to our private schools,” said Sheriff John S. Fuson, Montgomery County, Tenn. “I fully support Senator Blackburn and Senator Hagerty in the introduction of legislation to allow for the training and hiring of veterans and former law enforcement officials to serve as school safety officers. In the wake of the tragedy in Nashville and others across our nation, our community should know that we are doing everything we can to keep our children safe.”

“It goes without saying that the training these individuals have received in their respective careers has prepared them for such endeavors,” said Sheriff Chad A. Mullins, Hamblen County, Tenn.

“I applaud Sen. Blackburn for taking action to protect our most important citizens and secure their ability to learn in the safest environment,” said Sheriff Shane Fisher, Wayne County, Tenn. “We must take every precaution available to protect our children and those responsible for their education.”

“I completely support this legislation as it pertains to hardened security of our staff and students,” said Sheriff Jeff Cassidy, Sullivan County, Tenn. “We currently have SRO’s in each county school but the addition of highly skilled highly trained support would be advantageous in identifying vulnerabilities and strengthening our agency’s mission and goals in the protection of our schools.”

“I fully support a bill that would provide additional funding for schools to hire and train additional security,” said Sheriff Kyle Helton, Giles County, Tenn. “I appreciate that this legislation will also help aid some of the smaller rural counties in Tennessee that currently have no security officers or school resource officers.”

“Our nation has a duty to protect the safety of our children. Ensuring trained personnel are ready, willing, and immediately able to respond to threats is key to maintaining school safety,” said Larry Cosme, President, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “Veterans and former law enforcement officers have unique skills that already allow them to serve as a force multiplier in public spaces, ensuring these trained public safety officers can also maximize school safety will serve to mitigate the tragic, lethal consequences of school shootings. We applaud Senator Blackburn for taking immediate action to address this serious issue.” 

“We join the nation in grieving the loss of three beautiful children and three heroic adults on March 27, 2023 as a result of the shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, TN,” said Sgt. Betsy Smith (Ret.), Spokesperson, National Police Association. “At the recent nationally televised Academy Awards, celebrities were protected with metal detectors, armed guards and other target hardening. Unfortunately, the majority of our nation’s schools lack the security resources to provide similarly safe environments.  So many events and venues are staffed with full time or part time security personnel who are often retired law enforcement officers, military veterans or both.  These people frequently have decades of special training, and, more importantly, a heart to serve and the mindset to protect.  The National Police Association encourages the support of the SAFE School Act, a grant program that will allow both public and private schools to hire and train veterans and retired law enforcement personnel as school security officers.”

School Safety Advocates And Military Veterans Are Urging Congress To Quickly Pass This Legislation:

“We can't predict where or when the next school shooting will happen, but we know how it will be stopped: by a security officer with a gun,” said Andrew Pollack, School Safety Advocate and Parent of Parkland Victim Meadow Pollack. “The police reacted bravely in Nashville, but in a shooting every second matters and the SAFE School Act will save lives by ensuring that more schools are guarded by armed security officers.


  • The SAFE School Act establishes a $900 million grant program that will allow both public and private schools to train and hire veterans and former law enforcement officers to serve as school safety officers.
    • Specifically, states will be allowed to establish, if necessary, and implement a certification program that allows for veterans and former law enforcement officers to become certified school safety officers.
  • States may use the grant funds to hire off duty law enforcement officers as school safety officers.
  • Additionally, schools can also utilize the funding to increase training for teachers, enhance the physical security of the school, conduct threat assessments, and purchase equipment for school safety officers.
  • In the previous Congress, Senator Blackburn introduced similar legislation to allow for the training and hiring of veterans and former law enforcement officials to serve as school safety officers. 

Click here for additional information on the legislation.

Click here to view Senator Blackburn’s video remarks on the SAFE School Act.