After the Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas school shootings, the leaders of a number of states have focused intensely on protecting their students through common sense school security solutions. On Thursday, a state governor announced dramatic plans to stop and prevent the next shooter in their tracks.
According to the New York Times, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey publicly presented her “School Sentry Program,” which aims to put a gun in the hands of every school principal or administrator who oversees a campus that is not protected by a school resource officer (SRO).
Her goal is to deal with future threats to Alabama’s students immediately. She doesn’t believe we can risk children’s lives by waiting for a longer-term solution to work its way through the political process.
“The Governor’s SAFE Council recommended adding more School Resource Officers throughout our state, a solution that I support, and will work with the legislature to implement,” Ivey announced, according to a press release from her office. “However, until we have a concrete plan to increase the number of SROs, we must provide a way for schools to protect their students in the upcoming school year.”
A school sentry would be required to have a weapon secured in a safe, as well as a bulletproof vest, and they would go through extensive training and testing. The program is voluntary. No school administrator would be forced to participate if they are not comfortable with it.
“I believe this is a common-sense approach to increasing security in our schools,” Ivey continued. “School security is one of the highest priorities for law enforcement and this program will help first responders identify and stop threats quicker and before they happen.”
An association of school boards across the state agreed that Ivey’s school sentry program “appears to be a reasonable, interim solution with some sensible safeguards” until every school can be assigned an SRO.
According to AL.com, State Superintendent Eric Mackey added that rural schools in the state are especially interested in arming their principals because police can take up to 20 minutes to respond. Rural and suburban schools have been targeted for mass shootings more often than urban schools, which typically have stronger security measures in place.
Some state leaders believe that there needs to be more than one armed and trained individual at each school, though, especially considering the sizes of some campuses. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recently said that having four or five armed and trained people per school is what’s needed to be truly effective in quickly stopping an active shooter.
Kay Ivey portrait by Jamie Martin - State of Alabama, CC BY-SA 4.0