The voluntary Alabama Sentry Program would allow administrators in the state’s public school systems to have a gun on campus once they meet requirements.
Established last week by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, through administrative action under current state law, the program works with the Alabama State Department of Education and state police to establish a framework to help add armed staff to schools that lack a resource officer. Backers argue that, unlike teachers, school administrators have “complete access to their schools” not just an individual classroom, thus allowing them to be responsible for all of the students on campus and better placed to confront an active shooter.
“The Alabama Sentry plan is a reasonable and measured approach to provide an additional tool for schools without a resource officer,” said Ivey after pointing out that the current summer vacation would be an ideal time to stand up the program. “With the unfortunate continued occurrence of school violence across our country, we cannot afford to wait until the next legislative session.”
Under the program, a volunteer faculty member with a school administrator certificate and concealed carry permit would have to be approved by their local superintendent, school board and county sheriff to become a sentry. Commissioning of the administrator as a reserve sheriff’s deputy, tasked only with responding to an armed intruder, would occur after training and passing drug, mental-health and stress screenings. Faculty serving as sentries would have to use a weapon from an approved list and be issued a distinctively-marked ballistic vest. The gun would be stored in a biometrically-secured safe on school grounds.
Names of those serving in the program will not be made public and officials can terminate a faculty member’s partication for violation of the guidelines or if a dedicated school resource officer is hired. The Alabama Sheriff’s Association, state Secretary of Law Enforcement Hal Taylor and Dr. Eric Mackey, Alabama Superintendent of Education, support the program.
“Schools are sanctuaries of learning and, as such, they must be safe places for our children to learn, knowing that the adults around them are watching out for their safety and security,” Mackey said. “With recent events around our country, now is the time to act.”