Local leaders agree school safety is key, disagree on how to make it happen
Wed, 27 Feb 2013 00:17:05 GMT —
COLUMBIA (WACH) - A couple of local leaders agree there should be more officers on school campuses, but they disagree on how to make that happen.
Bamberg County lawmaker Bakari Sellers is sponsoring a bill that would put School Resource Officers in every school around the state, but Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews says that could cause a policing problem.
"Safety should be a priority and I'm treating it as such," said Rep. Sellers. "I believe that we have the money to fund this program, and I don't think it's a want; it's a need."
Sellers says memories of a school shooting in South Carolina reinforces the need for School Resource Officers.
"One of the first school shootings that happened in this country happened at Blackville Hilda High School, and I just remember the helicopter landing and people crying and not knowing, and the uncertainty," said Sellers.
Sellers points out that he feels the state has the money to fund this need, but the state needs to prioritize how it spends cash.
Sheriff Matthews, however, says having an officer in every school would put a strain on law enforcement.
"We are stretched so thin we are rapidly losing the ability to provide the services people expect," said Matthews. "[Having resource officers] is a deterrent, but nothing is fool proof,"
Under the proposed bill, if any school employee notices the absence of resource officers, they would have to report that. Police departments would be required to send another officer in their place.