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DREW TAYLOR ON JUN 1, 2018, SecurityInfoWatch
June 01--Tuscaloosa public school officials said Thursday that it's too soon to tell how schools here will be affected by a new state program that allows some school administrators to have guns on campus.
On Wednesday, Gov. Kay Ivey announced the start of the Alabama Sentry Program, a voluntary program that would give schools that lack school resource officers the authority to store firearms in a secure place. However, school administrators in the Tuscaloosa County School System and Tuscaloosa City Schools are not sure about how the program will operate.
"When you saw it, that's when we saw it," TCSS Deputy Superintendent David Patrick said Thursday.
Patrick said there are now seven SROs that are based primarily in the system's high schools and the Sprayberry Education Center, but officers frequently rotate to other schools and respond to different locations as needed.
"It just depends on where the need is," Patrick said. "They just try to spread themselves the best they can."
In a recent meeting with the Tuscaloosa County Commission, TCSS Superintendent Walter Davie said it would cost around $3.2 million to provide an officer in each school in the county.
Announcing the program in Montgomery, Ivey said her SAFE Council had recommended adding more SROs in schools across the state to ensure safety. In a statement, Ivey said she supports adding more officers in the schools, but that until a plan could be enacted to do that, the sentry program was a way to ensure safety in the meantime.
"I have created the Alabama Sentry Program to provide additional security measures for our children, and to utilize the current summer break to train those who volunteer to be a sentry," Ivey said. "The Alabama sentry plan is a reasonable and measured approach to provide an additional tool for schools without a resource officer. With the unfortunate continued occurrence of school violence across our country, we cannot afford to wait until the next legislative session."
A school administrator must seek approval from their local superintendent or school board to participate in the program. Those volunteering for the program must have a valid concealed-carry permit and must be appointed as a reserve sheriff's deputy. The program is only applicable to school systems in the state with elementary or secondary schools that do not have SROs.