The Mobile County Board of School Commissioners unanimously approved a contract with the Mobile County Commission and the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office to fund 12 sheriff’s deputies to work in MCPSS schools.
The school system is paying about $1.8 million for the first year, and it could expand the program in future years. The cost – which equals $149,000 per deputy for the first year and $101,000 per deputy for years two and three – covers salary, overtime, benefits, as well as the equipment and vehicle for each officer. In turn, the Sheriff will provide an armed and uniformed deputy during school hours at certain schools designated by MCPSS.
MCPSS Superintendent Chresal D. Threadgill said that he is excited to have worked out all the details in this contract. “This will add an extra layer of security so that we will be able to put our students and faculty and staff more at ease in a safe learning and working environment.”
This is yet another security measure that MCPSS is embarking upon in its continuous process to keep schools safe. These deputies will work alongside the system’s 13 resource officers and its director of safety and security.
School board member Doug Harwell said he is proud of the relationships that the district has been building with local law enforcement. MCPSS had considered arming its own resource officers, but came to this agreement instead. “Having these sheriff’s deputies on campus is a good match,” he said. “We’ve already got a great setup with our resource offers, but this will add another layer of safety.”
Other measures put in place by MCPSS over the last several years include: the installation of the Crisis Alert system in all 90 schools, security cameras in all schools, door locks, an anonymous texting service for students and staff to report safety issues, and training for students and staff for emergency situations. The district has also implemented mental health programs and student discipline procedures to reduce the number of incidents on campuses.
“We believe that right now our schools are the safest place to be from 7 to 3,” said Andy Gatewood, MCPSS Director of Safety and Security, “but we also know that there are always things that we can do to increase our safety and security. We feel as though having the armed deputies in our schools will add to our continued goal of having our schools be the safest in the country.”