LITTLE ROCK — The Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would make the identities of security personnel at public schools and colleges a secret.
In a 24-5 vote, the Senate approved Senate Bill 12 by Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch. The bill goes to the House.
The bill would create an exemption from the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act for information about the number of security or law enforcement officers on a campus or “any” personal information about them.
The FOIA exemption also would apply to records that “upon disclosure could reasonably be expected to be detrimental to the public safety, including without limitation records or other information concerning emergency or security plans, school safety plans, procedures, risk assessments, studies, measures, or systems.”
“This bill protects the most sensitive security information owned by colleges and K-12,” Stubblefield told senators.
Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith, asked Stubblefield if his bill would allow a school district to hire, for example, a group of Green Berets to operate as a secret security force.
“Could there be a situation where there’s 20 to 30 of these folks in a school district and no one can get information about them or find out anything about them?” Files asked.
Stubblefield said the information that would be withheld “would depend on what they’re trying to find out.”
Sen. Will Bond, D-Little Rock, said after the Senate adjourned he voted against the bill because it was too broad.
“If they (limited it to) the emergency response plan, then I would be much more willing to agree,” he said.
Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, said he did not support the bill in its present form and expressed hope that it would be amended in the House to be less broad.