School safety task force issues report

A task force made up of law enforcement, school and elected officials issued a report making recommendations to improve school safety and offering some recommendations about how to fund the improvements.

Recommended changes include equipping all schools with appropriate video and audio surveillance equipment and with “adequate communications capability to ensure immediate access to first responders.”

The task force also recommends each school be supplied with an Alabama Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission-certified School Resource Officer, adequately trained and equipped to ensure student safety.

All local schools have a school safety plan in place, as required by state law, the task force reported.

Its members recommended the Sheriff of Etowah County review each school’s plan.

The Sheriff is directed check that plans are adequate and comply with state  law, and to visit each school in Etowah County to conduct an assessment of what is physically needed to adequately secure each school.

The task force also calls for the school boards, the Etowah County Commission, the various municipal governments to begin talks immediately about funding the recommendations it has made on a local basis “to ensure the stability of safety protocols.”

“This task force specifically finds that the safety of our students, faculty, and staff are of the highest priority,” a press release from the task force stated. “We recommend that the school boards and the appropriate governing bodies make every possible effort to secure funding for the safety of the schools located within this county.

“Recommendations include, but are not limited to, budget reallocations, and reallocation of the current one-cent sales tax, municipal funding measures, or a referendum to be placed before the citizens of Etowah County regarding any additional funding measures as seen fit by the Etowah County Commission.”

The task is comprised of Etowah County Commissioner Tim Choate, Sheriff Todd Entrekin, District Attorney Jimmie Harp, Presiding Circuit Judge Allen Millican, Gadsden School Board Superintendent Ed Miller, Etowah County School Board Superintendent Alan Cosby, Attalla Board Superintendent David Bowman, and Etowah County School Board Member Tim Langdale.

In addition to this task force, a committee appointed by state Rep. Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, made up of officials, citizens and students, is meeting to consider ways to improve school safety.

That committee is scheduled to meet today (Feb. 1).

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