Alabama officials unveil new ‘Smart on Safety Initiative’ that aims to enhance school safety and security

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama officials unveiled a new school safety initiative at a news conference Tuesday afternoon that aims to enhance school safety and security in the state. After the Parkland shooting at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School last month, many states have been tackling the complex matter of keeping kids and teachers safe in school.

Governor Kay Ivey announced the “Smart on Safety Initiative” that focuses on four key elements: Secured Schools, We Know Our Kids, Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs), and the Governor’s Securing Alabama Facilities of Education (SAFE) Council.

“In announcing a four-pronged approach to school safety, we will build on the foundation already in place and allow all available state resources to be focused on efforts to keep our children safe,” Ivey said. “Ensuring safety in our schools is a bipartisan issue, and we must do all we can to prevent violence and be sure we are ready to respond in the event such violence does occur.”

The governor also signed Executive Order 713 during the news conference setting up a Securing Alabama Facilities of Education (SAFE) council that will help implement the initiative.

According to the governor’s office, the “Smart on Safety Initiative” is a framework that is meant to be flexible and workable and will be added to based on the recommendation of the SAFE council and others.

The four components are explained below.

  • Secured Schools: Alabama will support local school officials as they meet their own safety needs. The governor supports permitting the Education Advancement and Technology Fund to be used for school security.
  • We Know Our Kids: Schools will intervene in the lives of students who are at risk of harming themselves or others before they act violently. Schools will be encouraged to identify at-risk students through student engagement and other factors.
  • Emergency Options Plans (EOPs): When a school emergency occurs, school personnel must be able to act immediately before first responders arrive. Schools must work with law enforcement and first responders to provide a coordinated response to emergencies. Each school will continuously update its EOP, and students and school personnel will receive regular training on the EOP.
  • Governor’s Securing Alabama Facilities of Education (SAFE) Council: The Council will be composed of the Secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Secretary of the Office of Information Technology, the Alabama State Superintendent of Education and the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health. The SAFE Council will report to the governor by April 30, 2018.