Sentry program would arm select administrators

Published 2:08 pm Thursday, May 31, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Governor Kay Ivey has announced the Alabama Sentry Program as a way to help school systems without school resource officers increase security against active shooter scenarios.

Although Chilton County Schools does not have school resource officers, each school will be covered by a security resource officer starting in the 2018-2019 school year. The Chilton County Board of Education approved funding for this at its May 15 meeting.

The Alabama Sentry Program would allow school administrators who were interested “to use lethal force to defend the students, faculty, staff and visitors of his or her school from the threat of imminent bodily harm or death by an armed intruder” after receiving approval for a conceal carry permit and being made a county reserve deputy sheriff, according to a statement by the governor outlining the SAFE Council’s recommendation.

Specific details on implementation are expected by June 15.

Voluntary sentries would also have to attend specific Alabama Sentry Program training.

The administrator would have to receive approval from the school system and the local sheriff.

“I think it’s a good option,” Chilton County Schools Superintendent Tommy Glasscock said.

The training component was an important aspect to him.

“I’m anxious to see what the training would be,” Glasscock said.

Since Chilton County Schools will already have officers on campus, this option is not likely to be used here.

Glasscock said he does welcome the option for locations without a security resource officer, such as LeCroy Career Technical Center.

However, Glasscock said LeCroy was not assigned an SRO because multiple police officers are on site as instructors on a daily basis.

“I’m very excited that the governor is addressing this,” Glasscock said.

The Sentry Program was developed with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the Alabama Department of Education.

Glasscock expressed concern at the requirement for the authorized weapon of the administrator to be kept in a “biometrically-secured safe.” He said this could prevent the administrator from getting to the weapon in time in an active shooter situation.

Arming teachers was considered by the legislature in House Bill 435, but did not make it out of committee.

The Chilton County Board of Education participated in security work sessions before approving funds for security resource officers. This option was chosen to have a more security focused job description than a typical school resource officer.

Glasscock said he thinks the state legislature will consider funding for school resource officers in the next legislative session.

“I think everyone is going to agree that that is better option than arming our administrators,” Glasscock said.