By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Following the horrific slayings of twenty first graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Town, Connecticut by an evil madman, the state of Alabama held a Joint Committee meeting on what Alabama can do to improve school security. The meeting was called by the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn and Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R) from Anniston. Following the Wednesday, January 9th hearing several legislators and state policy analysts took to Facebook to express their opinions.
State Rep. Kurt Wallace (R) from Maplesville said, “I attended the joint House/Senate education committee’s meeting today in Montgomery to discuss school safety. I thought the committee did a great job of bringing everyone to the table. We heard from representatives from our Sheriff’s, District Attourney’s, Dr. Tommy Bice (the Superintendent of Education, Spencer Collier with Homeland Security, someone from the mental health department, a teacher, and several others. There was a lot of discussion about how to “protect” our children.”
State Rep. Allen Farley (R) from McCalla said, “Today I sat in the House Chamber in Montgomery and listened to individuals go before a joint education committee to discuss school safety. We heard from Senators, House members, DA’s, a school teacher, the Alabama State Superintendant of Education, and the Alabama Director of Homeland Security. The comments and suggestions varied, but everyone was on the same team. I was encouraged.”
State School Board Member, Mary Scott Hunter (R) said in her newsletter, “I expect the Board and Legislature will take up the question of gun violence in schools. I plan to bring my Military lawyer background as an Air Force Judge Advocate to bear in this discussion. My training and experience tells me that in this we cannot but have the very best conceived plan. We should not be rash or hasty in our decisions, and we should consider all options that tend to deter would-be shooters and increase safety for students and staff. Arming staff, perhaps only the ones who have previous military or law enforcement experience in order that they could act as first line defenders, is an option. Other considerations also abound to include: deadbolts on every school room door; egress plans; door security; etc. In the meantime, all should view the great video released by the Alabama Department of Homeland Security on the basics of Run / Hide / Fight.”
Conservative policy analyst and political analyst Michael Ciamarra said, “Busy day in Montgomery today! School Safety Hearing was held at the Statehouse chaired by our good friends Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin and Sen. Dick Brewbaker. Was a fascinating hearing that included lawmakers, Dr. Bice, Dept. of Homeland Security Director Collier, Sheriff, Constable and other law enforcement groups, School Resource Officer Presidents (National and AL Chapter), District Attorney representatives, and concerned citizens. School security will be an issue with much focus and attention by lawmakers this coming session.”
Alabama Senator Bryan Taylor (R) from Prattville said on Twitter that he went to the joint hearing on school security and gathered good information for his upcoming security roundtable with the local school superintendents of his district next week.
Rep. Wallace said, “As you would expect opinions varied greatly. Some too aggressive (in my opinion), and some to passive (also my opinion). Fortunately, we took what I believe is the correct approach and decided to stop all the knee-jerk reactions and step back to evaluate the facts and then put together a plan that we can afford and will do the best for our children. We don’t need to drag our feet…nor do we need to turn our schools into military type fortresses either. I believe we will have a well thought out plan ready for the House and Senate to start debating as soon as, or very shortly after, we get into session on Feb. 5th. I will keep you all posted as we get further into this matter.”
Rep. Farley said, “Those of you who know me well know my position on school safety. I believe that teachers should be given every opportunity to teach in a safe environment. And, I believe our trained law enforcement community should be given every opportunity to provide a safe environment for teachers, students, and parents. I do not believe placing a firearm in a teacher’s hand at school is our best option. I do not think we have the luxury to continue to expend tight budgets to allow trained law enforcement officers to teach classes. Teachers need to teach. Safety professionals need to keep people safe.”