House approves bill allowing armed school guards

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Alabama lawmakers are close to approving a measure that would allow local school districts to hire armed, trained security officers and guards to protect their schools.

The Alabama House approved the bill 97-3 late Thursday. The Senate has approved the bill, but the bill must now go back for the Senate to approve the changes. The Legislature only has one meeting day left, which is May 20, for the House and Senate to agree on any changes.

Currently, county sheriffs and police chiefs can pay deputies and police to patrol campuses, but school boards cannot use their funds to pay for armed resource officers or guards.

Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin

Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin

Lawmakers suggested the proposal as part of a series of bills intended to help secure schools and buses in Alabama following the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December.

To qualify to work on a campus, the officer would have to have successfully completed 16 hours of firearm training approved by the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission, and annually pass firearm requalification required of law enforcement officers.

Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, R-Indian Springs, said the bill is not mandatory for schools, but gives schools another option to protect campuses.

Rep. James Buskey, D-Mobile, said most school districts would not have the resources to pay for the armed resource officers.

– posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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