Glenda Wilson, school safety coordinator for Walker County Schools, led the meeting. She thanked area police for their efforts to make schools safer.
“I appreciate you being so helpful to us. We need you, and we want to work as a team,” she said.
Wilson said the BOE and area law enforcement have joined together to improve school safety and security through an “all-hazards” approach. She said school system employees and police are now visiting each school, evaluating safety needs.
“Each school will be different, and that is why we will be visiting each one,” she said.
Law enforcement groups represented at Thursday’s meeting included the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office, Sumiton Police Department, Dora Police Department, Cordova Police Department, Sipsey Police Department and Parrish Police Department. Police at the meeting agreed that a presence at area schools is important.
“We’ve been invited to come to the schools any day and have lunch,” said Scott Karr, Sumiton’s assistant police chief. “Because of federal standards, they have to charge us $3 for lunch, but that is a cheap lunch for us, and I think it is a great idea and great for community relations.”
Parrish police have designated one officer to be a school resource officer in that town’s schools.
“My office is in the elementary school, and I would like to help any department I can,” Parrish Officer Steven Yarbrough said. “I want to be an advocate to help get more SROs in our schools.”
Wilson said she felt it would be a positive for area schools if each could have a student resource officer.
“If we could have an officer in every school, that would be ideal. I hope that is something that can happen in the future,” she said.
Ray Capps, a deputy with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, said he wants area law enforcement to use the school safety committee as a way to improve their communication with each other.
“It’s not that often that we get all of us together in one room,” he said. “We are trying to bridge the communication gap between us and the schools. To do that, we need to bridge the communication gap between us. None of us are capable of handling something on a major level. It’s going to take all of us working together, and to do that we need to be able to communicate.”
Capps said it has been suggested that all area authorities have SouthernLink radios. He said the only two departments who don’t are Oakman and Parrish. Capps said Walker County BOE officials have already said they would be placing radios in each school.
“We need to get them radios,” he said. “If something big is happening, we need to be able to talk to each other without it going out over the scanner.”
The sheriff’s office is planning on having a training event for the county’s law enforcement before the start of the next school year, Capps said.
“We need to be able to get together and see what each of us have and are capable of,” he said.
Wilson said the group will meet again after several of the school evaluations are complete. “We’ll have plenty to discuss after making some of these visits,” she said.