Lawmakers weigh costs of training new officers for schools - - Columbia, South Carolina

Lawmakers weigh costs of training new officers for schools


Episodes of tragic school violence across the nation in the last year have had a heavy impact on South Carolina lawmakers. Now they're considering allowing school districts to employ extra security, but at what cost?

There are several proposals this session aimed at not only increasing school safety but giving schools the option of who they want to protect their students, and what skills they should have.

School Resource Officer Linda Kirkland is trained specifically to protect school hallways, and the young lives behind each door.

"Basically we deal with things that happen in every community," said Kirkland. "It's just it's in a school setting rather than out on the street."

A bill proposed in the State House would create the position of 'School Protection Officer' -- an officer who undergoes a specialized two-week first responder and armed protection training program. But some say it's just not enough.

"Two weeks is barely enough to teach a person," said Criminal Justice Academy Director Hubert Harrell. "I just can't even imagine the liability of someone with two weeks of training carrying a firearm into schools."

Another roadblock for this school security option? The cost.

"It's about $2 million," said Harrell. "There are 1,300 some schools here, so if you put one in every school that means we gotta train them."

Lawmakers say training school staff to recognize violent behavior may be a more cost-effective solution.

Two similar bills to this, one involving psychologists and the other involving school resource officers in every school, were put on hold largely due to cost factors.

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