School Sentry Program Rife with Unanswered Questions


On May 30, Governor Kay Ivey announced the installation of the Alabama Sentry Program in school systems throughout the state. This program would permit administrators at schools without a School Resource Officer (SRO) to maintain a firearm on campus, in a secured safe, in case of an active-shooter situation.

The administrator would have to have approval of the local superintendent, local school board, and county sheriff to participate. Criteria, which includes but is not limited to, specific training of the administrator, drug and mental health screenings, stress tests, and other procedures such as an appointment as a reserve sheriff’s deputy must be achieved.

“There are a lot of questions that have to be answered before systems commit to doing that,” said Pickens County School Superintendent Jamie Chapman at the June 25 meeting of the Pickens County Board of Education. “For instance, mental health and services for getting our kids care early and address the mental health issues that we have. That number is only going to go up because of just society in general and what kids are exposed to and what they are not exposed to.”

“It all comes back to a funding issue,” Chapman said.

In the past, staff was taught, in an active-shooter situation, to run, hide, and fight only if necessary. When 911 was called, law enforcement first secured the perimeter. “Everybody is being taught now, if you are the person in charge on that campus, you go,” said Chapman. “Go where the gun shots are.”

Since the Herald was in attendance at the meeting, Chapman wanted to clear up a few things regarding the sentry program introduced by Gov. Ivey. “Number one, it is only for school systems that do not have SROs,” he said. “We fit that mold because we don’t have any. Luckily, we have local police forces that we talk to and welcome in our schools in the good times, because again, if there are bad times, we don’t want our kids to be shocked. We are very lucky to have that relationship.”

See complete story in the Pickens County Herald.
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