Questions about the School Safety Act
by our readers
Apr 01, 2013 | 2405 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On March 15, the police chiefs of Talladega and Oxford held a press conference promoting the School Safety Act currently before the state Legislature. This act would be paid for by taxpayers, with a $3.5 million property tax increase. Those proposing the tax say it will average an increase of $35 per taxpayer in Talladega and Calhoun counties.

While this move is being pushed as needed for school safety to include a law enforcement presence in public schools, a large percentage of the expected revenues is vague as stated. Emergency management communication officials indicate that part of the funding is to be earmarked for an upgrade of radio devices on school buses. Is it possible to improve upon just a simple cell phone? Talladega Daily Home coverage stated a significant portion is included for, “ … public safety in general” — up to $4 million for, “ … the maintenance and upkeep of law enforcement communications.” This is not adequate and is reason alone to not support passage of this act.

With the school shooting in December in Newtown, Conn., we are seeing a rush to judgment with politicians and government officials seizing the moment to take advantage of public feelings with the results being more restrictive gun laws, and a whole new industry under the guise of school safety being pursued. While the Newtown incident was as terrible as one could imagine, such events are rare and remote. The only school mass murder of this magnitude on record prior to Connecticut was a May 18, 1927, event in a Bath, Michigan, school that took 44 lives. In the past 30 years since 1983, a total of 547 lives have been lost to mass shootings. While this number appears excessive on the surface, in 2011 alone, a total of 8,583 were killed by gunfire in the United States.

As a nation, a state, city and county, we must somehow become more proactive as opposed to continuing to react afterwards in addressing crime and violence. More money in itself is not the answer.

As we move toward voting in June on the School Safety Act for Talladega and Calhoun counties, please ask yourself, is this a good piece of legislation as proposed and is it well intentioned? Is the law enforcement presence in schools today not serving its purpose? But most of all, will it make our schools safer than they are today, or are we again seeing some local officials using school safety as a means to raise money for their own pet projects?

James W. Anderson
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