HOUSTON — School leaders from across Texas were in Houston Tuesday to get some life-saving training on school safety, including how to handle an active shooter situation.

As part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s 44-point school safety action unveiled in May 2018 following the Santa Fe High School shooting, Crime Stoppers of Houston was chosen to train other chapters and educators.

"Crime Stoppers of Houston has stopped this potentially almost 300 times since 1997 in the Houston area. We've just been doing it quietly,” said Rania Mankarious, CEO of Crime Stoppers of Houston.

Mankarious said her organization is one year into a 3-year-long effort to give free training to all 137 Crime Stoppers programs in Texas, which cover roughly 1,800 school districts, along with any other school officials interested in learning the material.

"Anonymity is key,” Mankarious said. “Kids don't need to deal with the fear of retaliation."

John Perches, law enforcement coordinator for Crime Stoppers of El Paso, attended the training.

“This has been very helpful,” Perches said. "It's going to help us expand our program."

Perches lives near the Walmart where Saturday's shooting happened and shops there, too. He said his family and friends are OK.

"I'm born and raised in El Paso, so obviously it's painful,” he said.

The accused shooter in Saturday’s tragedy is not from El Paso, and the attack did not happen in a school. Still, Perches believes that mass shooting gives Tuesday’s training even more weight.

"It should matter to every one of us,” Perches said. “That's what everybody should take home is that if they know of something or suspect of something, it's a simple call or a text."

Perches said he's proud of his city's response and appreciative of Houstonians' condolences and support.

"That's the biggest help that everybody can extend to us is prayers and that support,” he said. "I believe we will come out stronger and better out of it."

Crime Stoppers officials expect the state to provide funding for much of the training, which is expected to cost around $3 million. Aramco and Phillips 66 provided the initial round of funding.

Crime Stoppers plans to spread the school safety training beyond Texas through a webinar, which they plan to start rolling out in the fall.


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