MONTGOMERY — Gov. Robert Bentley on Tuesday vetoed a bill from Franklin County lawmakers that would have allowed teachers and community members there to be trained as reserve police officers and sheriff’s deputies, as well as carry weapons in schools.
The Legislature passed the bill last month.
In a letter Tuesday to lawmakers, Bentley said he was concerned primarily with the training aspect of the bill, which he said was not adequate.
“Failure to provide for specific, applicable training would create an unacceptable high-risk situation with the possibility of dire consequences, including the injury or death of a child, teacher or a volunteer member (of the security force),” Bentley said.
Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, who sponsored the Franklin County-specific bill and a similar statewide version, said he is going to try to gather support to override the veto Thursday.
Morrow wrote the bill in the wake of the December school shootings in Newtown, Conn., and after meeting with local school and law enforcement officials. On Tuesday evening, Morrow said Bentley is “out of touch” with the safety needs of schools that can’t afford resource officers and are 20 to 30 minutes away from emergency responders.
“Here’s the governor sitting in the governor’s mansion with all those security guards, he’s not worried about security,” Morrow said.
Morrow’s bill, HB116, makes it voluntary for teachers to become reserve sheriff’s deputies or reserve police officers, and puts the responsibility of training and supervising the “emergency security force” on local law enforcement. The bill does not require the Franklin County school district to take any action.
Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, carried the bill in the Senate and called the veto an “overreach.”
“I’m disappointed in the actions of the governor because the local people of Franklin County, and all across the state, should decide what should happen with their local systems,” Bedford said.
He will support the override effort, which requires a majority vote, he said.
Mary Sell is the Montgomery bureau chief for the TimesDaily. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.