Alabama House Democrats push for officers in schools

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) — It's an expensive proposal, and it certainly has its critics, including the state attorney general.

House Bill 182 states that part of the money would come from a proposed state lottery. The rest would be paid for by the school systems.

State officials said the bill was introduced Thursday, February 7.

But there are critics, including Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who said he wants to find better ways to protect our students.

One lawmaker said the measure is aimed at preventing tragedies like the one in Newtown, Connecticut.

Alabama House Bill 182 proposes placing an armed resource officer in each of the roughly 1,500 public schools in the state of Alabama.

A House democratic official said it's worth giving Alabamians a say in protecting their children, but the official admits the bill faces a challenge in the legislature.

Strange said, "I don't want us to overreact to the terrible tragedy in Newtown. I want us to thoughtfully think about how to keep our students and citizens safe while protecting our second amendment."

Strange said his office is working with law enforcement agencies to figure out the best methods to keep schools safe. Some local law enforcement officials think this officer proposal is worth looking into.

Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said, "We need to send a message that we make sure our students are protected and that we have armed resource officers to protect them on a daily basis."

Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said, "It's a good idea but I don't know that we can afford, the state can afford, to."

State officials said it would cost roughly $50 million to put armed officers in all public schools. Democratic lawmaker Napoleon Bracy is not on board with the idea.

Representative Bracy said the current economy, Alabama cannot afford the plan. He instead thinks county governments should work with local law enforcement to patrol the schools.

Sheriff Cochran feels the issue of protecting schools is bigger than simply arming guards.

"The real problem has to do with mental health and the wrong people having the guns in their hands,” said Cochran.

Under this plan, the armed officers would be partially paid through a state lottery.

The rest of the money would come from the local school districts, and they would have the choice to opt out.

We'll keep you posted as this story develops.

Copyright 2014 WALA TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Alabama (change)

Known as the “Heart of Dixie,” Alabama has a population of over 4.6 million residents. Montgomery is the capital city. Other major cities include Birmingham, Mobile, and Huntsville.
Offices & Officials

Governor: Robert Bentley
Lieutenant Governor: Kay Ivey
Attorney General: Luther Strange
State Treasurer: Young Boozer
Secretary of State: Beth Chapman

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