MONTGOMERY — Two Alabama House Democrats said today they plan to file legislation that would allow for more resource officers in public schools and allow for rural school to partner with local law enforcement to train and arm some staff members.
Reps. Craig Ford, Gadsden, and Johnny Mack Morrow, Red Bay, said in a press release today that it would cost about $50 million a year to put a resource officer in all 1,475 Alabama public schools. One piece of legislation will require the state to pick up half that cost. But if a local school systems cannot pay for their half of the cost, they should be allowed to bolster their security by creating a “volunteer security force consisting of existing employees.”
Morrow told this newspaper today that his legislation will focus on allowing rural schools, like many of those in his district, to have a team of employees trained and armed to protect students. He said that in some cases, it could take police up to 20 minutes to reach a rural school in an emergency.
“You can imagine what an AR-15 (semi-automatic weapon) could do in that amount of time,” Morrow said.
The volunteers would have to be approved by the local sheriff or police chief, Morrow said. The sheriff or police chief would then be responsible for training and equipping these security forces, all of which would be paid for by an appropriation from the Education Trust Fund budget, according to the press release.
Last month, Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville, said he will pre-file a bill that will allow schools to arm a few teachers or administrators.
School safety concerns have been highlighted in the wake of a mass shooting in Newton, Conn., last month.
Alabama’s 2013 legislative session begins Feb. 5.