School security meeting held in Montgomery - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

School security meeting held in Montgomery

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Senator Bill Holtzclaw of Madison said increasing safety means improving everything from manned security in the schools to finding ways to identify at risk kids. Senator Bill Holtzclaw of Madison said increasing safety means improving everything from manned security in the schools to finding ways to identify at risk kids.
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WAFF) -

Placing more armed officers in schools, having mental health professionals in every Alabama school, and enhancing school security were among the ideas talked about at the State House in Montgomery Wednesday as ways to prevent school violence.

The special meeting was scheduled in the wake of the tragic school shooting rampage in Connecticut. Lawmakers, educators, law enforcement officers, and security experts attended the hearing.

They also discussed how to be better prepared to respond to a shooting at a school. Alabama Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier said there is a need for more officer training because only about a quarter of Alabama law enforcement officers have active shooter training.

Collier also said more funding is needed to put the Virtual Alabama program in place for all state schools. The computer program works like Google Earth and allows first responders to view the layout of an area.

Senator Bill Holtzclaw of Madison said increasing safety means improving everything from manned security in the schools to finding ways to identify at risk kids.

"One of the aspects that came out of today was the triad response, and that pulls in the educational group. It pulls in the school counselors to help identify from the mental health perspective, and it also pulls in the law enforcement. So all those are the type of things and take a holistic approach to school security," Holtzclaw said.

Decatur's Director of School Safety, Dwight Satterfield, said there are no cookie-cutter answers.

"Each individual school and each school system has its own needs, and we're just asking that they consider those individual needs and include educators in the discussion," Satterfield said.

Educators and lawmakers said putting retired officers in schools would greatly increase safety. Retired officers can make as much as $22,000 a year. House member Kerry Rich of Albertville said in a perfect world they could afford to do it, but with state and local budget issues, especially in rural areas, a cheaper plan would be his plan to give teachers the right to carry guns in schools.

"By allowing, not forcing, but by allowing local school systems to designate people that would be trained to have a weapon on campus," Rich said.

Rich plans to sponsor a bill to allow teachers to carry firearms when the legislature convenes in February.

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