Pell City High School senior talks with SRO

Pell City High School senior Avery Weiss, 17, talks to Pell City Police Department School Resource Officer Thomas Gray. Gray, a former professional football player, is also a volunteer strength and conditioning coach for the high school football team. Weiss is tight end and defensive end for the Panthers. Gray and Pell City Police Department SRO Mac Pruitt are expected to be joined by a third SRO from the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office. 


PELL CITY -- Pell City will join the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office and the Pell City Board of Education to beef up security at local schools.

City officials said it will cost the municipality $7,500 to add an additional school resource officer under the countywide proposal to add additional police officers in schools across St. Clair.

“That’s a great deal,” police Chief Paul Irwin told the council at a Monday work session.

He said the additional SRO would work 29-30 hours a week. Irwin said the SRO is expected to be a retired law enforcement officer who is Alabama Peace Officer Standard & Training Commission (APOST) certified.

City Manager Brian Muenger said he was approached by the county schools superintendent and the county attorney about working together to bring more SROs into schools across St. Clair.

He said the agreement is between the county school system and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office, but the different municipalities across the county will assist with funding the effort. Pell City’s participation will mean an additional SRO for the city school system.

Muenger said actions have already been taken to increase security in Pell City Schools, but a third SRO would improve school security.

Irwin said he would not supervise the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office SRO.

“From a liability standpoint, you would not want me supervising the Sheriff’s Office SRO,” Irwin told the council.

Muenger said the municipality would only help fund the additional officer for the Pell City school system.

“The amount is the same for all the municipalities (in St. Clair County),” city attorney John Rea said.

Rea said the Moody Police Department provides an SRO, even though Moody is in the county school system.

Pell City Schools are separate from the St. Clair County Board of Education, but the systems work well together. The Pell City Police Department has two SRO officers working in the city school system.

Council members were in favor of funding the additional SRO.

“I do hope everyone recognizes how we have invested in the security of our schools,” Muenger said.

City officials said St. Clair County Assistant Sheriff Billy Murray is overseeing the countywide SRO program.