Rising number of school threats increasing demand for school resource officers

KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The rising number of threats taking place at schools around the Midlands is fostering a conversation about the increased need for school resource officers.

However, the Kershaw County Sheriff's Department said while people want additional services, community members don't always want to pay for them.

Kershaw County has 20 public schools and supplies a deputy within each middle and high school. However, three school resource officers oversee the 9 public elementary schools in the county. The sheriff's department said it would need an additional eight deputies to ensure each public school in the county was equipped with an SRO.

"Of course we'd like to have an SRO in every school, but with that comes an associated cost," Chief Deputy Jack Rushing of the Kershaw County Sheriff's Department, said.  "To hire a new deputy would cost around $120,000 initially and then a reoccurring cost of $80,000 a year after that."

The department estimates hiring and training eight new deputies would cost around $944,000, which it said would result in a $4.5 million tax increase. The county council approves the department's budget, meaning it would have the final say in whether additional money could be appropriated for new deputies.

Rushing said the influx in school threats is part of the reason many are calling for more security inside schools but warns just because a resource officer is in place does not mean a shooting will not take place.

"It's not a funny prank to play," he said. These are people's lives, these are people's jobs. This affects school bus routes, this affects parent's work schedules this affects your future," Rushing said.

The Richland District 2 School District said a threat found circulating social media on Thursday night threatening violence at Spring Valley High School on Friday was not found credible. However, some parents kept students home from school Friday amidst the threat.

"You don't do something and then say you didn't mean it," Victoria Serrano-Berry, a freshman at Spring Valley High School, said. "You had the option, you had time to stop yourself."

Serrano-Berry stayed home Friday, afraid to go to school. Her mom said while investigations by law enforcement into these threats is reassuring, it's what happens after the arrest she feels is vital.

"Getting arrested is one thing, but identifying the problem is crucial," Evelyn Hinds said. "I believe most of the time it has to do with mental health issues, emotional issues and it could be for attention."

Punishments for making school threats can vary based on the offender's age and the severity of the offense, according to law enforcement.

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