HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — The Texas Active Shooter Alert System, also known as House Bill 103 has been signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.
Filed by State Representative District 81 Representative Brooks Landgraf, HB 103 establishes a system that notifies the public of an active shooter situation. Lawmakers said the system is intended to save lives.
“The family of one of the victims is actually the one who asked for the piece of legislation,” said State Representative Mary Gonzalez, District 75.
The notification system is something Representative Mary Gonzalez, who was a joint author, said came about after an active shooting in Midland-Odessa.
This is when Rep. Landgraf authored the bill and worked together with colleges like Rep. Gonzalez to get it passed into law.
“When it came to the shooting in the Midland-Odessa area, it was an active shooter who was traveling.” Rep. Gonzalez added, “There was a sense, a very real sense that had people been notified, they might not have left their homes and prevented death.”
In a statement Chairman Morgan Meyer who is also a co-author said,
“We know that in active shooter situations, notification time and response times are critical to saving lives. This Active Shooter Alert System creates an immediate and far-reaching notification if there is an active shooter situation in an area of Texas. I’m proud to joint-author this critical piece of legislation, and while I hope it’s never needed, our communities are safer because it now exists.”
The bill received a unanimous vote in the Texas Senate and was signed into law by Governor Abbott on May 24.
Because of the Midland-Odessa tragedy, the bill is cited as the “Leilah Hernandez Act.” She was 15-years-old and one of the youngest victims killed in the shooting. Rep. Gonzalez said this bill would work similarly to other alerts the public already has and will be operated by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“Very similar to Silver Alerts and Amber Alerts when there is an active shooter in a 50-mile radius you will get an alert,” said Rep. Gonzalez.
Some of the components in the bill are in Section 411.375 that are, “believes an active shooter is in the agency jurisdiction; determines an active shooter alert would assist individuals near the active shooter’s location; verifies the active shooter situation through preliminary investigation; and provides the active shooter’s last known location and any identifiable information for the active shooter.”
Chief Andy Harvey of the Pharr Police Department said how accurate notifications can benefit public safety.
“Anything that’s going to help us be safer, anything that’s going to help us get information sooner is a good thing,” said Chief Harvey.
Although the bill will be similar to other alert systems that notify the public, Harvey said it should not be taken lightly.
“We don’t want to get to a point where it’s like car alarms and we don’t even acknowledge it anymore.” Harvey goes on to say, “this is something different we need to make sure when something comes up and it’s an active shooter that we look at.”
The bill is set to take effect on Sept. 1.