For five years, Alabama's Sentry program has enabled some school administrators to have guns on campus.
The program was put into place in 2018 by Gov. Kay Ivey to arm and train school administrators who volunteer to defend their school from the threat of imminent bodily harm. The Sentry program is only allowed in schools that do not have a student resource officer (SRO).
The governor's communications director, Gina Maiola, confirmed the program is still active but sensitive information was not publicly available for security reasons. When the program was established, Ivey said the names of individuals, schools and school systems would not be released.
Randolph County Schools Superintendent John Jacobs said most of his schools have SROs. However, he told 1819 News that when the program was implemented, he applied for the Sentry program but never heard back from the state.
"When they sent all of that information out, I sent it back, and I didn't get a response from anybody," said Jacobs. "[A]nd at that time, one of the guidelines was that the gun had to be locked up at all times, and it wasn't going to be like you walked around with it, but I had three administrators."
As a superintendent, Jacobs said school systems participating in the program must be thorough when identifying which administrators should possess a firearm.
"It depends on the administrator, to be honest with you," Jacobs said. "When I was an administrator, it wouldn't have bothered me to carry a gun because I hunt and all that. But some people have never handled a gun, and I might be worried about them."
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency's (ALEA) training center is responsible for training and managing sentries.
Graduates of the program receive a certificate after undergoing training by the School Safety Training and Compliance Teams, a mental-health assessment, a stress test and a drug test. The sentry is then duly sworn as a reserve deputy county sheriff. Ongoing testing and screening are required for the sentry to keep their certification. If any violations are made, certification may be terminated by ALEA.
Firearms and bulletproof vests are allowed, but those authorized firearms are to be kept in a "biometrically-secured safe."
ALEA has not responded to media requests on the topic.
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email email@example.com.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.