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School security personnel bills expected in House, Senate today

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama House and Senate could vote today on bills that proponents say would get more armed security personnel in public schools.

House Bill 209 and Senate Bill 255 change state law to allow former state, local or federal law enforcement officers with at least 25 years of experience and who retired in good standing to become armed school security personnel. They would not have to be certified by the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission, as is currently required of school resource officers.

Sponsor Rep. Phillip Pettus, R-Green Hill, previously said the that requirement for weeks-long APOST training is unnecessary and is keeping retired officers from protecting schools.

The bill is similar to one Pettus sponsored last year. It was approved in the House and in a Senate committee, but died without a vote in the full Senate on the final day of session.

Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill.

Schools can hire their own security staff or contract with local law enforcement for school resource officers. Schools can currently hire non-APOST certified security force members, but they can’t be armed.

Hiring retirees as security personnel would save schools money because the officers already have benefits, Pettus has said.

Several education groups were in favor of the bill last year because it gave schools more flexibility for making schools more secure.

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