MONTGOMERY — State Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow is going to try again this session with a bill to allow teachers and community members to be trained as reserve officers within that county’s schools.
The original bill from Morrow, D-Red Bay, died Thursday when his fellow House members, most of whom are Republicans, didn’t support his effort to override a veto from Gov. Robert Bentley. Bentley said this week that he vetoed the bill because training was not adequate for the special security force the bill would create.
Morrow on the House floor Thursday took issue with Bentley vetoing local legislation and told his colleagues that if Bentley did it to him, he could do it to them.
“Gov. Bentley is saying we don’t want Washington telling us what to do,” he said. “Gov. Bentley is saying, ‘On the other hand, I want to tell Franklin County what they should do.’ ”
Morrow has reintroduced the bill as HB404 and said that in committe he will make some changes recommended by Bentley.
Morrow wrote the bill in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings and after meeting with local school and law enforcement officials.
The bill makes it voluntary for teachers to become reserve sheriff’s deputies or police officers and puts the responsibility of training and supervising the “emergency security force” on local law enforcement. The bill does not require the Franklin County school district to take any action.
Morrow said he knows of teachers who are reserve deputies.
They can’t be in uniform during school hours, but can patrol and carry weapons during football games and other events.
Bentley has said he does not support arming teachers.
Spencer Collier, director of the state department of homeland security, said Thursday the administration only supports certified law enforcement officers in schools.
“Just by making a teacher a reserve deputy does not make them a certified law enforcement officer,” he said.
Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission gives out that certification, not local sheriffs. Certification training is 12 weeks, Collier said.
“It is more than teaching someone to shoot at a shooting range,” he said. “We’re talking about giving individuals the state-sanctioned authority to take someone’s life.”
Morrow has a similar statewide piece of legislation that is currently lingering in a House subcommittee.
Mary Sell can be reached at email@example.com.