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Schools consider more armed officers
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The addition of armed officers to all Warren County schools is one of the ideas being discussed to increase security in the wake of the Connecticut school shootings.
“There is the discussion of having school resource officers in all school buildings,” said Director of Schools Bobby Cox, who revealed roundtable discussions with school leaders are scheduled for Jan. 8. “Then there’s the possibility of having retired law enforcement officers to provide a full-time presence at the schools.”
School resource officers, or SROs, are Warren County deputies who are assigned to schools on a full-time basis. As deputies, SROs have full law enforcement training.
While parents may not have noticed, there was an increased presence around most of the county’s schools Monday and Tuesday. Officers were asked to provide a visible presence near schools, but not to the point of generating concern by parents. Teachers were also asked to be on a heightened awareness.
While saying the recent tragedy has sparked accelerated discussions about how to make Warren County’s schools safer, Cox said bolstering security had been the topic of discussion here in the months leading up to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on Friday.
“A couple of months ago we began looking at crisis management plans,” Cox said. “This was already in the works before the shootings.”
The Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, Cox noted, has hastened the school system’s security plans and has brought about a move to look at having officers present at all schools.
“Right now we have three SROs at the high school, one at the middle school, and one who serves the rest of the schools,” said Cox, noting an expansion of the SRO program would also mean the county would have to come up with more money to fund the initiative. “I hate that security issues are attached to the budget.”
Cox said it could also come down to manpower, even if the county opts to fund officers in each school as trained officers would have to be found to fill the positions. That’s where, Cox noted, the idea of recruiting retired law enforcement officers to serve in that capacity is being considered.
“It’s certainly something I believe may be looked into,” Cox said of the increased SRO staff.