Jefferson County's safety concerns following Florida school board shooting

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM (WBRC) - The video of a gunman threatening a Panama City school board has shaken many.

In Jefferson County many taxpayers who use public buildings say the incident shows the need for additional security.

"It's very scary," resident Shomond Harris said. "It shouldn't happen at schools or school boards. It shouldn't happen."

At the Jefferson County Board of Education visitors are required to sign in. There are security cameras and there is usually a resource officer of the Jefferson County Sheriff's office on hand.

"I think the network of security cameras throughout the building, the presence of the sheriff's department are all proactive measures that help us, but again we want anyone who comes into this building to feel safe," Phil Hammonds, the Jefferson County Superintendant said.
The Birmingham Board of Education has its own security force on duty, but Jefferson County and Birmingham do not use metal detectors.

"What happened down in Bay City highlights the need for security but we don't want to become a police state. We don't want to overreact to incidents such as this," Birmingham Mayor William Bell said.

There are metal detectors at Birmingham City Hall and there are also security scanners at Jefferson County courthouses where county commissioners and taxpayers do regular business. Still officials say this is not full proof.

"It is not a perfect system. In order to allow the public, attorneys to come in and do business in the county. We do the best we can," Jeff Smith, Director of General Services for Jefferson County said.

While additional security will be considered, taxpayers say it will not be an inconvenience.

"No inconvenience. No inconvenience at all. Anytime you can save somebody from what happened down in Panama City, Florida. It's good to have security. If they had security it would have never happened," Dermamius Leondard, a taxpayer said.

Hammonds says he expects the county will review its security measures in wake of the Florida shooting.

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