Horry County Schools, Police talk safety in light of Ohio school shooting
Tue, 28 Feb 2012 03:02:58 GMT —
The call from your child, saying they're on lockdown or someone has a gun in the school is all too real for one Horry County community.
It's been a year and five months since a then-15-year-old Christian Helms took his father's revolver to school. According to his journals, he hoped to create another Columbine-style school shooting. Helms pleaded guilty to attempted murder, and a judge sentenced him to six years.
"I think what we learned from Socastee is to keep our ears open, our eyes open," School board vice chair and former police officer Joe DeFeo says.
In both Monday's school shooting in Chardon, Ohio and in Socastee, the gunmen were reported to be victims of bullying.
Since the attempted shooting in 2010, Horry County police have created phone and email tip lines for bullying. To date, they have only received 11 tips to the hotline, and 3 e-mail tips. None have led to charges.
"This is for the kid that sees something and doesn't want to go to the SRO's office or be labeled as a snitch. You know, if it's used for one incident and it stops something from happening, it's totally worth it," Sergeant Robert Kegler says.
In 2010, the school board had considered handing over school security measures to Horry County police. While the board never voted on that, DeFeo says that students are safe.
He says Horry County Schools brings in a private security company each year to audit random schools on how they conduct drills and practice lockdown scenarios. The district is also currently in the process of interviewing for a newly-created position of a security head. They hope to have someone in place in two weeks.
"We have police on the campus of course for middle school and up metal detectors in service. Is everything foolproof? No. Only if we turn everything into a prison," he says.