McMaster hoping for armed officers in every school statewide

Gov. Henry McMaster delivers a keynote speech at the South Carolina Financial Symposium Monday. McMaster said he wants to see at least one armed law enforcement officer in every school in the state. (Taggart Houck/WPDE)

During the South Carolina Financial Symposium, Governor Henry McMaster took a moment to talk about safety in the classroom, less than a week after a round table discussion he hosted with state leaders in Columbia.

He said teachers need help, and he added an idea to pay for it in his Executive Budget.

"The one thing we can do that we know works is to have a certified, trained, law enforcement officer on duty in that school, every school, all day, any time the children are there," he said after the symposium.

Right now, the Horry County School District has an armed security officer in each middle and high school, according to district spokesperson Lisa Bourcier.

She said the school board also voted to have an armed officer in all 27 elementary schools. At this time, about half have one in place, while others have a roving officer until more are hired, she said in an email.

School Board Chairman Joe DeFeo said with proper training, it might not be bad to let school employees carry a weapon, under special training and conditions.

"I would prefer to see it happen with additional training," he said in an interview last Friday. "I would never want anybody to be forced to carry a weapon in the school," he said.

DeFeo said he's more cautious with arming teachers because of the classroom environment around children. He said he's committed to keeping schools safe.

When asked about arming teachers and school staff, he too suggested a training process.

"I'd say properly trained, that's something to be explored under the right conditions, but first thing, we've got to get a certified law enforcement officer in those schools," he said.

McMaster said he'll do everything in his power right now to keep schools safe and urge legislators to focus on school safety as well.

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