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Morrow’s school safety bill passes through House

Published 6:04am Saturday, February 9, 2013

The state House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would allow Franklin County school personnel to become the first in the state to create emergency security forces.
According to the legislation, former and current school personnel, as well as community volunteers, could be trained as reserve sheriff’s or police reserves and would have the authority to act as security forces on school campuses. These armed and trained volunteers would work with local police and the sheriff’s office with local school boards paying those costs.
House Bill 116 was sponsored by Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow. Though the legislation is currently written specifically for Franklin County, Morrow believes the bill could become law statewide.
The bill would require the implementation of detailed crisis plans that includes a “comprehensive plan of action for the emergency security force to follow in the event the security of the school is compromised or the safety of students or employees is threatened.
The plan should also specify how and where weapons may be stored and carried by emergency security force members and circumstances under which certain weapons may be used. All weapons and equipment used shall be approved by the sheriff or the chief of police.
Russellville City Schools Superintendent Rex Mayfield said that crisis plan would be the crux of the legislations and the place administrators and law enforcement would have to pay the most attention to.
“We would definitely need to work out the issue of teachers being part of the emergency security force because when does a teacher stop being a teacher and become the protector,” Mayfield asked.
“Would they leave their students to take down the perpetrator or stay with them? There are just some details that we need to work on to make sure everyone would be on the same page.  Obviously we all want to do whatever we can to make sure our children are safe.”
The remoteness of some of the schools within the Franklin County system was part of the reason Morrow came up with the bill. He said some are 20 minutes from emergency responders.
Morrow, amended the bill this week to also allow for training for bus drivers, gun violence prevention and the “use and safe keeping of mace, stun guns, Tasers and other non-lethal weapons.”
The amendment was in response to the killing of a bus driver in Dale County. The bill  now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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