MONTGOMERY — Gov. Robert Bentley, who has said he is against arming teachers, will soon have before him a bill that would allow current and retired teachers and other Franklin County residents to become part of an armed and police-trained school security force.
The Alabama Senate approved without debate Tuesday HB116 from Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay. It 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 passed the Senate by a 25-0-1 vote. It passed the House earlier this month and now goes to Bentley. If he signs it, it will take effect immediately.
“We will review that bill, but the governor does not think teachers should be armed and law enforcement officers are better trained to respond and prevent incidents of active shooters,” Bentley spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis said Tuesday.
Teachers would not be paid more for serving on the force and any costs associated with training and equipping them would be paid by the local school districts. The bill does not require the Franklin County school district to take any action.
“Nothing is mandated in this bill; it is all permissive,” Morrow said Tuesday.
Morrow proposed making school teachers reserve officers in the days following the Newtown, Conn., school shootings. Morrow said that some Franklin County schools are 20 to 30 minutes away from police and other responders if there is an emergency.
“My prediction is that you will see a lot of other counties go to this,” said Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, who carried the bill in the Senate.
A similar statewide bill by Morrow has been referred to a House subcommittee.
Mary Sell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.