Security Check: Hanceville Schools review security plans with police, sheriff’s office


Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry, standing, addresses members of the Hanceville Police Department, Cullman County Sheriff's Office, Hanceville Fire and Rescue and others, including Cullman County Schools Superintendent Shane Barnette, Hanceville High School Principal Jimmy Collins and Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail, on Monday. The group assembled to discuss safety measures at Hanceville schools. / W.C. Mann

HANCEVILLE – While students and most teachers took Presidents Day off, Hanceville High School Principal Jimmy Collins was hard at work, hosting a joint team of representatives from the Hanceville Police Department, Hanceville Fire and Rescue, and Cullman County Sheriff’s Office on a walk-through tour of all three public schools that share a campus in the city.  Mayor Kenneth Nail, Police Chief Bob Long, Fire Chief Rodger Green, Sheriff Matt Gentry and County Schools Superintendent Shane Barnette were all in attendance, along with a host of law enforcement officers.

The groups came together for a detailed look at the schools’ facilities, examining layout, entrances, exits and campus access in order to give all agencies better chances to respond to acts of campus violence like the shooting that devastated Parkland, Florida last week.

Collins told The Tribune, “Our Mayor (Nail) just called us and asked what he could do to help out, and we came up with this plan to let everybody see the school; and then let everybody know how proactive we’re trying to be in this situation, to let everybody know that we’ve got people here who care about their kids, and we’re doing everything we can to prevent (school violence) to start with.  

“But in case it was to happen, you know, we’re prepared for that as well.  We’ve got Hanceville PD that’s only a block away from us, and you know that we’re ready for it, if it ever did.  

“But we’re doing a hundred percent, trying our best not for that situation to ever come about, with our teacher advisory groups being proactive in trying to get into those kids’ minds before, let them know that we’re here to help them out if they’re having some issues at home or here at school.  If they’re getting bullied at school, we have all kinds of (help for) that, to where they don’t get to the point to where they just have that feeling that there’s nobody there to help them.  And that’s the main thing we want this meeting to (be) about, and let everybody in the community know that.”

After an introductory discussion, Collins led the officers and officials hallway by hallway through multiple campus buildings at all three schools, looking at classroom and exterior doors and discussing ways to control campus access and react to an active shooter scenario.  For security reasons and at the principal’s request, specific details of the facilities and discussed procedures were not included in this article.

After the meeting, Barnette told The Tribune, “I’d just like to say how much I appreciate all these guys for coming and walking through the school.  I mentioned earlier that, you know, as long as there’s sin in the world, there’s going to be bad things go on, but I think we can do everything we can do to be better prepared to prevent it–number one–and to make it as small as possible–number two–if something does happen and be able to respond and react fast.

“It makes me weak in my knees, you know, I want to throw up when I think of what happened last week in Florida, and if something like that ever happened in Cullman County, it just breaks my heart.  But we’ve still got to be prepared for it and do everything we can do to be prepared.”

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