Big problem has no easy solution

Published 9:53 am Monday, December 31, 2012

On Dec. 26, the Shelby County Commission rejected Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry’s request for immediate additional funding to place deputies in 11 schools across the county in response to the Newtown, Conn. elementary school shooting in mid-December.

When bringing the request, Curry said, “We owe an obligation to protect children and schools. This is the action we need to take right now in order to continue making right decisions.”

Curry also acknowledged that the sheriff’s department will be over budget at the end of the year, but said, “Our children’s safety is more important than coming in under budget.”

The commission rejected the request because of budgetary concerns, but Commissioner Lindsey Allison made a good point when she said protecting children is “a collaborative effort on all of us.”

“I don’t want anyone to think we’re not trying, but we can’t just write a check. We’ve got to be smarter than that and get all the players to the table,” Allison said.

In that regard, Allison is exactly right. All the players need to come to the table, and those players include the County Commission, the sheriff’s department, local city police departments, local legislators and representatives from all local school-related groups, including those attached to the Alabaster, Hoover and Shelby County school districts, private schools and any other school groups.

We encourage representatives from all those entities to come together as soon as possible to sit down and discuss ways to refine and improve existing safety procedures for all our schools. That way, some school safety improvements can be implemented at once, while others can be implemented when possible.

Sheriff Curry is also right. We do have an obligation to protect children and schools in any way we can. But those plans and procedures must be implemented smartly and in such a way that we know we can continue to support them for as long as needed — which, likely, is for the foreseeable future.

The problem of school violence demands our attention; unfortunately, solving the problem will likely take broad action and legislation above what Shelby County alone can do. But we can come together to be part of the solution.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.