Officials in northwest Alabama are getting ready to announce a one-of-a-kind school security program where security volunteers are armed.
Democratic state Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow passed legislation in 2013 to allow Franklin County to set up its own school security system using volunteers who have undergone training. The bill passed despite objections from the governor. Morrow says the Protection Institute from Charleston, South Carolina, is helping develop the program. He says Franklin County plan will be the only one of its type in the state.
The school system can’t afford high-tech security systems, officials have said, and the remote locations of some of the schools make them vulnerable.
“It’s very necessary and important to have this in place,” Bedford said. “The school children in rural Alabama are just as important as those in the cities.”
The legislation to create the security forces only in Franklin County passed in 2013, after being vetoed twice by Gov. Robert Bentley.
Different law enforcement groups and the state's then-Homeland Security director Spencer Collier spoke against the bill because they say it doesn’t require enough training.
The bill doesn’t mandate that schools do anything. “It is a permissive program,” said sponsor Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay, in 2013. “I’m not mandating anything. If none (create the volunteer forces), that’s fine.”
Under his legislation, the security forces can be made up of current and retired teachers and residents of the county.