MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile County School Board approved adding 12 armed deputies to all 12 Mobile County high schools Monday morning.
This has been a topic of discussion for years, but after collaborating with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office and the Mobile County Commissions office, a three-year pilot program has been approved and will be fully funded through the school system.
The program will cost nearly $1.8 million the first year, and nearly $1.3 million the second and third year. These funds will cover the newly hired deputy’s salary, overtime, benefits, equipment and vehicles.
“This is a move forward into being proactive, not reactive,” Board Commissioner Johnny Hatcher said.
Currently, Mobile County schools only have resource officers. However, these officers are unarmed and cannot respond as quickly compared to what these new deputies can do in an emergency situation.
“With 90 campuses like I said, over half of our campuses are in the City of Mobile,” MCPSS Safety and Security Director Andy Gatewood said. “So you can imagine if we have things that happen at several campuses at one time, it really stretches the Mobile Police Department and other agencies really thin. So it’s going to be great to have one deputy in for each high school that we can call.”
Tom Wait is a Mobile resident who has had grandchildren in the Mobile County School System. He thinks that this is a good start, but more could be done.
“I think it should be more than the high schools,” Wait said. “It should be the grade schools too because we got some real kooks running around here.”
If things run smoothly in the high schools, board members said that they plan to add armed deputies to Mobile County middle and elementary schools.
“Guns don’t necessarily fix everything, but it is good in the event that requires some type of higher-level security,” Gatewood said.
Board member Douglas Harwell said that this is just another layer of security. What he really hopes for are long term values and relationships to form as these students graduate.
“So hopefully what we are going to see after they are leaving the school systems is that they can trust these guys,” Harwell said. “They have seen these guys in uniform and that they are good people. They are here to help us.”
These deputies will be primarily stationed at the high schools but will occasionally make rounds to the middle and elementary schools to become acquainted with campus.
There is not a set date just yet for when high schools could see these deputies, but we are told it will be soon.