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January 10, 2013

Education, law enforcement officials meet on school safety

(Continued)

CULLMAN — County: ‘Focus on what we can change’

For Cullman County Board of Education officials, the question of safety is a complex one. Made up of more than two dozen schools spread over several campuses, the system is a mish-mash of old and new buildings that have been built and connected over the years. Some buildings have a half dozen entrances, while other campuses have classrooms that open to the outdoors.

But instead of focusing on what he can’t change, Superintendent Billy Coleman wants to tackle areas he can control.

“We can talk about the laws and all those things, but we need to focus on what we can change,” he said.

Coleman said he believes one of the biggest priorities for the county system will be to install some type of secondary locking mechanism inside the classrooms, so teachers could lock down their rooms and hopefully prevent a gunman from shooting through the door.

Max Bartlett, with the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office, said officers will begin surveying county campuses next week to generate ideas for updated evacuation and lock down procedures.

“We want to walk through every campus with tactical officers to identify cover and concealment options and exit strategies,” he said.

Education and law enforcement officials both agreed that increasing the amount of on-campus school resource officers would be a top priority this year.

Most county schools have a resource officer assigned, though many schools share officers due to funding limitations, meaning not every school has a consistent law enforcement presence.

“The goal of the sheriff’s office is to have resource officers at every school,” Bartlett said.

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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