Governor Kay Ivey announced a new program that would allow school administrators to voluntarily arm themselves in an active shooter situation.
The Alabama Sentry Program is only for schools without resource officers. It gives schools another way to protect students.
WAAY 31 spoke with parents about the new program and learned what they think about arming their children’s administrators.
“This can’t keep happening. And something’s got to be done," said Betty Duncan said about the recent school shootings we've had in our nation.
Duncan is a retired teacher and a grandmother of two.
“I’m worried every day," she said. "And I know other parents and grandparents are just as worried as I am.”
Duncan says she supports Governor Kay Ivey's new sentry program.
The program allows administrators in schools without resource officers to voluntarily arm themselves as an additional security measure.
Joel Camp says he thinks about his son’s safety all the time, and he believes the new program is a no-brainer.
“I don’t think we have a choice on the matter. It’s just inevitable, it’s just the times we live in," Camp said. "Something’s got to be done and we’ll have to implement something to deter what’s going on these days, because it’s happening too often.”
Under the program, no teachers would be armed.
Camp says teachers should not carry weapons.
He’s afraid the guns would be too accessible to students.
But he likes the idea of administrators having the option.
"Highly responsible people that would watch over the children and keep them safe," he said.
Duncan says she thinks administrators should be armed because she thinks they’re more likely to come in contact with potential shooters before teachers.
“They’re usually in a front office, right by the doors, so they could catch people coming in," she said.
The new program would require administrators to have mental evaluations and special training by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Parents say they’re all for starting that training right away.
“I think we’ve been unprepared for the school shootings," Camp said. "We’ve been caught off-guard, so I definitely agree with the training.”
“Maybe they could start training them now that school’s out, and by the fall, they could be ready to go with this," Duncan added.
WAAY 31 pressed Madison City Schools Superintendent Robby Parker on if he would consider this new program to increase security.
He told us he's sticking to their plan of adding more school resource officers.
“Trained officers of the law are special people. They have special training, they’ve got specific skills, and they’ve been trained to protect; whereas school teachers and principals—and I was a principal for many years—we have a different skill set that we’ve been trained on," Parker said.
Superintendent Parker says the program works better for schools in rural areas where emergency response time may be a little longer.
But parents WAAY 31 spoke with say they think the program could work anywhere.
“The alarm is going off. I mean, we have to do something," Camp said. "I think if we lay back, it’s just going to happen over and over again.”
WAAY 31 also talked with the Morgan County school district. They say the new program is under consideration, and they think it’s a step in the right direction.
We also reached out to Jackson and Limestone County Schools, as well as Athens and Decatur City Schools to see what they think, but we are still waiting to hear back from them.
With the new program, local school boards will have to pay for certifications, evaluations, and hardware for participating administrators.
Those administrators, or the board of education, will be responsible for getting a secured safe, an approved weapon, ammunition, and a specially-designed bullet-proof vest.
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