Dr. David West served as a military officer, teacher and principal. Madison City Schools say that's what makes the new head of security the right person for the job.
"The threat 10 years ago was not the same threat as it is today," Dr. West said.
He is officially the Madison City Schools Safety and Security coordinator, but before that, he was recently a principal.
"Things sort of changed for me back in 2013. I was a principal in Dale County School District, and we actually had a school bus shooting where we lost a bus driver. One of the students was taken hostage," Dr. West said.
Dr. West officially became the head of security for Madison City Schools on January 30th. He tells WAAY 31 seeing through the eyes of both military and school leaders helps him make security decisions.
"I think the way law enforcement views schools and the way educators view schools are a little bit different, and my goal is to bridge that gap to make sure we are looking at schools with the same lens."
He says overseeing security for one of the main school districts in Madison County is still an adjustment.
"As a teacher, you are responsible for 25-30 students, as a principal, 500 to a thousand, as the Safety and Security Coordinator, it's over 11,000 students," Dr. West said.
He says he is satisfied with the current security situation in the district, but more can be done. Specifically, Dr. West is looking to improve communication between the district, security leaders and parents through new apps. Mass notification and opportunities for people to report things when they see something suspicious are in the works. More mental health counselors and security cameras are also on the way.
Safety is his priority, but he says students and parents can do their part, too.
"Be aware of their surroundings, and make sure adults are aware of what's going on as well."
Currently, there are 9 school resource officers covering the 11 schools in the district. We do not know when more will be hired.