Robert Bentley: Law enforcement should handle school safety
Mar 04, 2013 (Montgomery Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Gov. Robert Bentley Monday morning raised the possibility of a veto of any school safety legislation that put guns in the hands of untrained teachers and support personnel.
Speaking before the Virtual Alabama School Safety Summit at the Renaissance, Bentley said he wanted to expand training for confrontation of active shooters to all law enforcement personnel in the state. Those personnel, he said, should be the only ones tasked with protecting schools.
"The people who should really confront the active shooter situation are our law enforcement officers," the governor said. "You don't get someone off the street to treat your congestive heart failure when you're sick, so why would you get someone off the street to protect you from active shooters "
Bentley went on to say that he was "going to be realistic in whether I veto" some of the legislation that might emerge on this topic. Afterward, Bentley said he would veto legislation that would arm teachers and personnel who "were not continually trained," but reiterated his preference that teachers not be required to provide security.
"Really, (educators) are not law enforcement," Bentley said. "They're not there to be law enforcement. They're there to teach. We need to protect them with people who protect us, and that's our law enforcement people."
Following guidance from House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, the House and Senate's Education Policy committees held hearings in early January on the state of school safety. The hearings came in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that left 27 people dead, including 20 first-graders. At the time, Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville, said he planned to introduce a bill that would allow teachers and support personnel to carry firearms.
Rich has since filed legislation that would allow school boards to designate employees to carry pistols or stun guns, provided they have 16 hours of training in a firearms course approved by the Alabama Peace Officers' Standards and Training Commission and annually complete requalification. Rich's bill is currently in the House Education Policy committee.
At the January hearing, law enforcement officers noted that they were trained in both firearms use and de-escalation of tense situations.
The committees were expected to present a report on testimony to Hubbard's office, who would then determine if further legislation was needed. Rachel Adams, a spokeswoman for Hubbard, did not immediately return a request for comment Monday morning.
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