School marshal program highlights district safety initiatives

July 01, 2024

Cougar News

Exterior of the Collin Higher Education Center

Collin College became the first Texas community college to authorize school marshals on its campuses after the Texas Legislature approved the program’s expansion from independent school districts to community colleges in 2018. Today, the college’s second cohort of school marshals is in the selection and background check portion of the qualification process, and the Collin College Public Safety Training Center (PSTC) is one of just five marshal training sites in Texas.

“Ensuring the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community is always a top priority,” said Dr. Neil Matkin, Collin College district president. “It takes both courage and commitment to step into this school marshal role, and it is great to know we have such a highly trained group of employees ready to serve in the event of a crisis.”

The school marshal program and other emergency response training offered at the district emphasize Collin’s commitment to safety.

That commitment is evident in the training required. In addition to being 21 years of age and meeting federal qualifications for owning a gun, a school marshal candidate must also complete 80 hours of state-mandated training designed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). Training also includes instruction in physical security, improving campus security, use of force, active shooter response, and weapon proficiency.

“At Collin, our Board has been committed to ensuring a safe campus environment,” said Andrew Hardin, Board of Trustees chair. “We are pleased to see our school marshal training program serving as a blueprint for others.”

Due to the exceptional training in place at the PSTC, TCOLE has authorized the Collin College Law Enforcement Academy
 (CCLEA) to conduct that training for school districts and other community colleges around the state. It is one of only five school marshal training sites in Texas and was the third to receive TCOLE approval.

Scott Donaldson, director of Law Enforcement at Collin College, noted that all school marshals who take state-mandated training through CCLEA receive that instruction from experienced law enforcement, emergency medical services, and firefighting personnel.

“We are combining all of the college’s resources, bringing in true subject matter experts,” Donaldson said. “We bring in people who have worked in the field and have firsthand knowledge that our trainees can benefit from.”

CCLEA has trained three school marshal cohorts – about 60 people – over the past two years, and another course is set to begin in July.

“The feedback that instructors Lt. Don Mewbourn and Sgt. Scott Knight and our other part-time subject matter experts get is just phenomenal,” said Scott Jenkins, Collin College police chief. “We’ve seen people adding paper to the program’s evaluations to express how great the program was.”

While exceptional for its reach, school marshal training is just one of the safety-related training opportunities spearheaded by the college’s Law Enforcement personnel. Police officers and local experts train hundreds of district employees and students annually in ways that they can respond to emergencies, including the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) and Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) self-defense programs.

Along with school marshals, programs like these continue to emphasize Collin’s commitment to safety.