The Feb. 14 shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, isn’t the first tragedy to kickstart legislative action. Legislators tackled the issue of school safety after the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.
After the Sandy Hook shooting, the General Assembly passed the 2013 School Safety Act, which increased funding for school resource officers, school psychologists, social workers, and panic alarms.
The statute also allowed for school districts, along with local law enforcement, to create a volunteer SRO program. Counties struggling to staff every school with an SRO could open the door for retired law enforcement or military police to fill the role.
- Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page announced Feb. 28 plans to start a volunteer SRO program in his county. The sheriff noted how many Rockingham elementary schools don’t have a dedicated SRO and often have to share them with each other. (See interview at this link.)
- Johnston County is also considering armed SRO volunteers, while Stanly County has already voted on and approved such a plan for its schools. Henderson County, on the other hand, plans to hire more armed security guards to fill any gaps in security.
- Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin wants to take a different approach to school safety and suggests teachers use the Rave Guardian app to alert law enforcement of an emergency. Peterkin also suggested installing electronic perimeter security devices at every school and enhancing his district’s video security camera system.