The Alabama Senate approved a bill Thursday by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, that would allow local school boards of education to hire retired law enforcement officers to serve as armed school security staff, provided they possess 25 years of experience.
The officers must complete active shooter prevention training approved by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and a firearms certification course.
“This is a win-win for Alabama’s schools. I appreciate Sen. Melson carrying this bill that will allow qualified, retired law enforcement officers to serve as armed school security guards,” said Superintendent Tom Sisk of the Limestone County School System. “In Alabama, we have a lot of retired FBI agents, state troopers, and police officers, many of whom also have extensive military experience. Sen. Melson’s bill will allow the schools to have a larger pool of qualified security officers from which to draw.”
Current law allows retired officers to serve as school security staff, but retired officers without Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training, which can take weeks to complete, cannot be armed.
Many retired officers allow their APOST certification to expire.
Federal officers, including the FBI, U.S. Marshalls, ATF and TVA police, were never APOST certified as they had federal certification. Officers who worked in other states were certified in the state in which they worked.
Getting APOST certification would require going back to the academy.
“Protecting the children of Alabama is of paramount importance,” Melson said. “School security has to be improved and this is a real solution that will put more highly qualified officers in schools throughout the state. I have worked closely with Representative Phillip Pettus on this, and we have had numerous meetings with superintendents and teachers — their input has been key, and I appreciate the Senate passing this measure. I expect that the bill will have smooth passage in the House of Representatives.”
Senate Bill 255 now goes to the House of Representatives. Rep. Pettus, R-Killen, is carrying the bill in the House.
Thursday was the 11th of 30 possible legislative days in the 2019 regular session.
The House has passed the state general fund budget, but the Senate has failed to move either budget out of committee.