Alabama's Ivey has issued an executive order enacting the new Alabama Sentry Program, which allows teachers and school administrators to be lawfully armed while on school grounds.
The program will technically deputize these teachers as reserve officers of the Sheriff's Department and they’ll have to be approved by the Sheriff, pass a drug test, pass a mental health assessment, obtain a concealed carry permit, and participate in yearly training programs.
Any such administrators or teachers who undergo the evaluation and approval process successfully will, in fact, become reserve sheriffs' deputies, granting them the full rights, responsibilities, and arrest powers of law enforcement officers. The program, for now, is only open to schools that lack school resource officers.
The executive order does not force school districts to arm administrators and will not require them to carry guns, but it allows each school district to choose whether to arm administrators. Likewise, no teachers or school administrators will be forced to become trained and carry a gun, but instead just gives them the option of doing so. It took effect immediately.
The number of states currently allowing teachers to be armed is now at least a dozen. They are:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
In a press release announcing the program, Governor Kay Ivey said,
“We must provide a way for schools to protect their students in the upcoming school year. With the unfortunate continued occurrence of school violence across our country, we cannot afford to wait until the next legislative session.”
State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey was also highly supportive and said,
“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.”
Included in the Initiative are mandates for the state Department of Education and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to establish stringent guidelines for sentries. An independent training course will be drawn up, as well as a system of checks and balances to ensure that sentries are performing their duties adequately and lawfully.