Officer against 'magic wand solutions' tells politicians to pay for school safety

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - School Resource Officers are speaking up on what they feel needs to happen to keep children safe while in school. They tell lawmakers to put their money where their mouth is, and fund South Carolina schools to pay for at least one School Resource Officer (SRO) full-time in each school.

But that's not all they want. Kevin Wren with the South Carolina Association of Administrators Security Round Table testified before a panel of House members on Tuesday afternoon for five things. They stem from a 2014 list of recommendations House members hammered-out, that went nowhere.

"How many school shootings are there going to have to be, how many how many children are going to have to be shot for us to find safety and security standards at our schools?" Wren asked.

Wren was a resource officer himself and now speaks for others. He is tired of news headlines reporting deadly shootings on school grounds.

"We have to put our money where the problem is and mandate change," he said to the House Education and Public Works Committee.

Here's what he suggests:

-At least one SRO in every school in the state

-School staff required to train in crisis management

-A separate division in either the Department of Education or at the SC Emergency Management Division just for school safety

-More funding for mental health services in schools

-Students to participate in active shooter drills much like they do fire drills

However, he does not want teachers armed, or metal detectors at school doors.

"I don't think that there are a whole lot of teachers that got into the education profession so that they could respond to active shooters. They want to teach reading and math," Wren said.

Lawmakers say funding for officers is the hard part. The governor has requested $5 million in the state budget the House hasn't allocated.

The committee chairwoman says funding for officers is the hard part and could be paid for in, "maybe some local and state funds you know, the local property tax funds coming in and private segments of being able to do something like that and making sure that we have at least one in every school," Rep. Rita Allison (R- Spartanburg) said.

The Department of Education says that as of last January 2017, 607 schools out of 1,195 have full-time SROs.

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