Archived Story

School security bill becomes law

Published 6:03am Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In what became a hot topic political item during the legislative session that wrapped up late Monday night, a local bill that will allow Franklin County to become the first county in Alabama to implement volunteer school security forces survived a second veto by Gov. Robert Bentley.
The House and Senate both overrode Bentley’s veto and allowed for the passage of HB404.
The legislation allows for the creation of a volunteer-based security force in Franklin County schools.
A previous version of the bill, HB116, passed both the House and Senate in February but was later vetoed by Bentley.
Bentley said he opposed the previous bill because it was not specific enough in nature as to who qualified as trained personnel.
In Bentley’s veto Tuesday, he said ‘as currently drafted, this bill provides inadequate training requirements for the emergency security force members. The bill simply requires that a member receive the “training deemed necessary by the sheriff.
“While I am confident that the sheriff is perfectly able to supervise the volunteer force, I believe that the Legislature should provide more specific and more extensive training requirements. Every law enforcement officer in the state, whether volunteer or paid, must receive a sufficient amount of training in order to cope with the emergencies that may arise.”
Bentley said he would not be opposed to a local bill if the security force members were APOSTC certified, if they’re properly trained to combat active shooters, and if the liability rests with the county. Those three requirements should be in any legislation establishing this type of security force.”
APOSTC stands for Alabama Peace Officers Standards & Training Commission, which provides a good standard of training for armed law enforcement.
Sheriff Shannon Oliver said now that the bill has been passed, he would meet with the local school boards to develop plans and the necessary qualifications.
“We will all work together to make sure we put a plan in place that ensures the safety of our students and school personnel,” Oliver said.
“This is not something that we will take lightly or rush into. We will make sure we have the best and safest plan possible in place.”
The bill requires 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. The sheriff shall approve all weapons and equipment used.
HB404 puts all members of a security force under jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office.
Franklin County schools Superintendent Gary Williams has said that some county schools would have to wait for as long as 30 minutes before police arrived in the event of an emergency.
The Russellville City Schools system now has a resource officer in all four schools.
Morrow said Speaker Mike Hubbard promised to help him with the bill if Morrow would stop holding up other local bills.
Morrow said local bills were rarely, if ever, vetoed by a governor and he felt like Bentley continued to veto the school security force bill without merit.
“We kept asking him to provide us with a plan if he didn’t like what we introduced,” Morrow said. “But, he never did. I am thankful for our legislative body seeing the need and importance in this bill and helping us pass it so we can ensure the safety of Franklin County’s students.”

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