Superintendent wants armed officers in elementary schools

Georgetown County's school superintendent wants armed police officers on elementary school campuses.

Middle and high school campuses already have school resource officers, but after last month's shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Dr. Randy Dozier believes more security could be the answer for the ten other schools in his district.

"It's not just the incident that happened before the holidays," Dozier said. "I will tell you that there are a number of incidents across the country and across the state which cause me great concern."

For more than a month, the district has paid off-duty police officers to watch over nine elementary schools and one optional school.

But Dozier wants to keep them for the rest of the school year, which would cost the district $150,000.

"No, it's not there, but it's in the reserve," Dozier said. "We'll take it out of the reserve. Luckily, we have a fairly healthy reserve. I think it's money well spent. We'll look at budgeting it for next year on a permanent basis and we'll just kind of go from there."

On Tuesday night, the measure will go before the school board for approval.

School resource officers go through specialized training to patrol middle and high schools, but the officers in the ten Georgetown County schools will not be trained resource officers.

"It's more security and walking the perimeter and the parking lots and monitoring the individuals that come in the building. So, it's not what you would typically call a school resource officer," Dozier said.

"All the officers that are working are veteran officers. So, they've been around the block," Georgetown City Police Captain Nelson Brown said.

The Georgetown City Police Department and the Georgetown County Sheriff's office will help with patrols at the school.

But Nelson admits police can't stop someone out to harm others.

"If someone wants to do a bad deed, they're going to do it," Nelson said. "The difference here is we have boots on the ground."

Dillon and Marlboro county schools have also talked about putting officers in elementary schools. But both districts are still trying to find money to pay for the extra security.