Union County Schools are hiring four new school resource officers, enough to put one officer in every school starting this fall. The sheriff’s office made the decision after the many deadly massacres at schools across our country.
In Knox County, after the Sandy Hook massacre, an SRO was put in every school.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office asked county commissioners for more funding in their budget so they too can have eight full-time SROs.
“Every day that you send them to school you do, even though you know that they’re going into a door that’s locked. Still you wonder how are these guns getting into the school system,” said mom Robin McWilliams.
Union County Sheriff Billy Breeding recently asked commission for $140,000 so that he could hire four full-time SROs. It’s a partnership with the school system where they’ll reimburse UCSO for two of those officers.
“I think it’s a great asset to our county and to protect our students and faculty,” said Sheriff Breeding.
It means every county school will have an SRO. Previously, UCSO had four SROs, two at the high school, one at the middle school, and one who rotated between five elementary schools.
Last year, UCSO rearranged schedules as a way to have more officer presence during drop off, pick up, and then random patrols during the day.
Commissioner Jonathan Goforth says this is a need so that school security is not stretched thin.
“We want to ensure the safety of students at all costs. You can’t put a price on that sort of thing. It definitely was a decision that is needful and timely,” Goforth said.
UCSO is already doing so much to protect students by providing teachers and faculty with active-shooter training. There are also live-feed cameras in every school streaming directly to the E-911 center.
“This is a tremendous help. I mean if you see trouble coming dispatch can alert officers on the ground. And Lord forbid, if we do have an active-shooter situation, they can let deputies on the ground know where he’s at, where we need to go, where we need to respond to,” added Sheriff Breeding.
Two months ago Sheriff Breeding says keyless entry pads were installed at schools in case there’s an emergency and no one can buzz in law enforcement.
Parents, like McWilliams, say all of these elements protecting their children give peace of mind.
“I think it’s a great thing. I think it’s something every school in America should have,” said McWilliams.
State lawmakers passed the School Safety Act of 2018 where law enforcement agencies can fund off-duty officers to supplement schools that already have SROs. Sheriff Breeding saying he plans to utilize that funding as well.