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Revised school bill passes House

The state House of Representatives passed a revised version of Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow’s school security force bill this week.
The legislation would allow 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 Gov. Robert Bentley.
Bentley said he opposed the previous bill because it was not specific enough in nature as to who qualified as trained personnel.
“The bill did not provide adequate training guidelines for the people who would be given such an important responsibility. The bill also created a liability against the state for accidents caused by the local security force. That made it a statewide bill, not a local bill,” said Jeremy King, director of communications for the governor’s office.
“Gov. Bentley would not be opposed to a local bill if the security force members are 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, King said.
Under the previous HB116, former and current school personnel, as well as community volunteers, could be trained as reserve sheriff’s or police reserves and would have the authority to act as security forces on school campuses. These armed and trained volunteers would work with local police and the sheriff’s office with local school boards paying those costs.
The bill would require 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. All weapons and equipment used shall be approved by the sheriff.
Tuesday, the revised version, HB404, passed the House with slight changes in language, putting all members of a security force under jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office and removing language pertaining to local chiefs of police.
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.
HB404 will now go to the State Senate.

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