School safety was the focus at a meeting in Robertsdale Wednesday afternoon, March 7, 2018. Dozens of leaders got together to look for ways to make our schools safer.
Since the school shooting massacre in Parkland last month, making our schools safer has been on the top of everyone’s mind. Another priority is to punish those who make threats, something that’s been on the rise recently.
“We’ve roughly had, that I’m aware of, county-wide about eight that we’ve had,” said Baldwin County Sheriff, Hoss Mack. “Of course one turned out to be valid. That was the incident in Fairhope. If you make a false threat in this county, we’re going to prosecute you just like you made the threat.”
The school system and the city of Fairhope have already made security changes in the last couple of weeks. The county is working towards a “buzz-in” system at all schools with just one entry point for outside visitors. Fairhope PD is moving two officers to full-time School Resource Officer duties. It’s a topic that was sure to get much discussion.
“If the powers that be in there want to partner in some kind of initiative for School Resource Officers on all 45 of our campuses, they’re not going to get any argument out of me if we can make it work,” said schools superintendent, Eddie Tyler.
That’s where money comes into play. Just four of the Sheriff’s Department’s six resource officers are full-time, but there are 14 campuses in the county’s jurisdiction.
“A basic deputy sheriff that would undergo the basic deputy training, fully equipped to include the SRO training is $75,000 per unit and so if you had 10 units, you’d have $750,0000,” Mack explained.
Baldwin County Commissioner Chris Elliott says everyone needs to be on the same page.
“The purpose of this meeting is really to make sure we’re not operating in silos so that we don’t have the school system unilaterally doing something where the commission may be able to help or the commission providing funding to the Sheriff’s Office where the municipalities are already stepping up,” Elliott said.
After the meeting, Elliott said the three main topics and common goals are to provide physical security within the school walls, find funding for and provide an adequate number of School Resource Officers and to make sure a system’s in place to have the fastest response time possible if an incident were to happen.
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