Officials talk school safety at Chamber meeting

By John Underwood / john@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 6/22/18

SUMMERDALE, Alabama — With the summer break already underway, preparing for the upcoming school year is already underway.

At the L.A. BBQ’s Banquet Hall Thursday, June 14 in Summerdale, the …

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Officials talk school safety at Chamber meeting

Posted

SUMMERDALE, Alabama — With the summer break already underway, preparing for the upcoming school year is already underway.

At the L.A. BBQ’s Banquet Hall Thursday, June 14 in Summerdale, the Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce hosted a meeting with Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack and Cpl. Jeff Spaller, coordinator for the School Resource Officer program.

In light of recent events, preparing for the upcoming school year has become much more than making sure students get the supplies they need for learning.

“School safety is now at the forefront of everyone’s minds and we’re doing everything we can to ensure Baldwin County’s schools are as safe as possible,” Mack said. “This is something that we are not immune to. Just a few years ago, there was a shooting at a school in Elberta and while we are grateful that it did not involve any students, we are aware that things like that can happen here and we are doing everything we can to prevent it.”

While there have not been any incidents in Baldwin County involving students, Mack said, there were at least one incident in the past year where possible school violence was averted at a school in Daphne.

School resource officers are very often the first line of defense when it comes to school safety. There are currently public 45 schools in Baldwin County. At the end of the school year, there were 30 school resource officers with plans to have a school resource officer at every school by the time the new school year starts in August.

“In the end, it will cost about $1.5 (million) to $2 million to place a school resource officer in every school,” Spaller said, “and we are grateful for the commitment that the Baldwin County Commission and Baldwin County School System have made to make this a reality.”

Spaller gave a short presentation on what parents can do, such as being aware of what their teenagers are watching and listening to.

“You’d be amazed at what’s out there,” he said. “I don’t want to scare anyone, but every parent needs to be aware that there are things out there that their children have easy access to.”

Video games such as Grand Theft Auto and school shooter type games have resulted in a desensitization of violence, Spaller said.

“There are things in these games that are very explicit, such as depictions of intercourse, even rape, and violence against law enforcement,” Spaller said. “We cannot prevent exposure to all of these things, but we do need to be aware of what’s out there and that there are things we can do to counteract those things.”

School resource officers act as the first line of defense for school violence, but can also be used as a tool to educate students about the consequences of their actions.

“We are law enforcement officers, but we also act as a mentor, teacher and counselor for these kids,” Spaller said. “It is important for these kids to learn from an early age that law enforcement and first responders are not the enemy. We are there to help them.”

One of the biggest resources of the Sheriff’s Department is the annual Shining Star programs. The three-day camps are held throughout the summer at various schools and include, not only Sheriff’s Department officers, but involve officers from Police Departments throughout Baldwin County.

Over the course of 10 years, more than 3,000 boys and girls have come through the Shining Star Camps. Many of those who have come through the program go on to join the Sheriff’s Department’s Explorers Program and may even go on to become members of the Sheriff’s Department.

“We are at the point where we are now hiring graduates from the Shining Star Program and those officers are now working within the Sheriff’s Department, mentoring other kids in the program,” Spaller said.

Another resource, Spaller said, is the Sheriff’s Department’s D.A.R.E. Program, which started a few years ago in just three schools and has grown to where all of the current school resource officers are trained to teach the D.A.R.E. program.

“It is more than just a drug awareness program,” Spaller said. “It is about teaching students to make the correct decisions in life.”

The 2018 Shining Star Camps began earlier this month at Rockwell Elementary School with additional camps in July Baldwin County High School and Central Baldwin Middle School and the final camp Aug. 1-4 at Fairhope Intermediate.

There are still slots available for the Shining Star Camp at a cost of $30 per camper. Assistance is available for those who cannot afford the fee, Spaller said. For more information about the Shining Star Camp, contact Tracey Jones at 251-972-6890.

By John Underwood

john@gulfcoastmedia.com

SUMMERDALE — With the summer break already underway, preparing for the upcoming school year is already underway.

At the L.A. BBQ’s Banquet Hall Thursday, June 14 in Summerdale, the Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce hosted a meeting with Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack and Cpl. Jeff Spaller, coordinator for the School Resource Officer program.

In light of recent events, preparing for the upcoming school year has become much more than making sure students get the supplies they need for learning.

“School safety is now at the forefront of everyone’s minds and we’re doing everything we can to ensure Baldwin County’s schools are as safe as possible,” Mack said. “This is something that we are not immune to. Just a few years ago, there was a shooting at a school in Elberta and while we are grateful that it did not involve any students, we are aware that things like that can happen here and we are doing everything we can to prevent it.”

While there have not been any incidents in Baldwin County involving students, Mack said, there were at least one incident in the past year where possible school violence was averted at a school in Daphne.

School resource officers are very often the first line of defense when it comes to school safety. There are currently public 45 schools in Baldwin County. At the end of the school year, there were 30 school resource officers with plans to have a school resource officer at every school by the time the new school year starts in August.

“In the end, it will cost about $1.5 (million) to $2 million to place a school resource officer in every school,” Spaller said, “and we are grateful for the commitment that the Baldwin County Commission and Baldwin County School System have made to make this a reality.”

Spaller gave a short presentation on what parents can do, such as being aware of what their teenagers are watching and listening to.

“You’d be amazed at what’s out there,” he said. “I don’t want to scare anyone, but every parent needs to be aware that there are things out there that their children have easy access to.”

Video games such as Grand Theft Auto and school shooter type games have resulted in a desensitization of violence, Spaller said.

“There are things in these games that are very explicit, such as depictions of intercourse, even rape, and violence against law enforcement,” Spaller said. “We cannot prevent exposure to all of these things, but we do need to be aware of what’s out there and that there are things we can do to counteract those things.”

School resource officers act as the first line of defense for school violence, but can also be used as a tool to educate students about the consequences of their actions.

“We are law enforcement officers, but we also act as a mentor, teacher and counselor for these kids,” Spaller said. “It is important for these kids to learn from an early age that law enforcement and first responders are not the enemy. We are there to help them.”

One of the biggest resources of the Sheriff’s Department is the annual Shining Star programs. The three-day camps are held throughout the summer at various schools and include, not only Sheriff’s Department officers, but involve officers from Police Departments throughout Baldwin County.

Over the course of 10 years, more than 3,000 boys and girls have come through the Shining Star Camps. Many of those who have come through the program go on to join the Sheriff’s Department’s Explorers Program and may even go on to become members of the Sheriff’s Department.

“We are at the point where we are now hiring graduates from the Shining Star Program and those officers are now working within the Sheriff’s Department, mentoring other kids in the program,” Spaller said.

Another resource, Spaller said, is the Sheriff’s Department’s D.A.R.E. Program, which started a few years ago in just three schools and has grown to where all of the current school resource officers are trained to teach the D.A.R.E. program.

“It is more than just a drug awareness program,” Spaller said. “It is about teaching students to make the correct decisions in life.”

The 2018 Shining Star Camps began earlier this month at Rockwell Elementary School with additional camps in July Baldwin County High School and Central Baldwin Middle School and the final camp Aug. 1-4 at Fairhope Intermediate.

There are still slots available for the Shining Star Camp at a cost of $30 per camper. Assistance is available for those who cannot afford the fee, Spaller said. For more information about the Shining Star Camp, contact Tracey Jones at 251-972-6890.