By Paul Gable
The introduction of school resource officers into elementary schools in North Charleston drew criticism from a parents group yesterday.
The decision to place SRO’s in elementary schools was essentially a unilateral one taken by North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. He admitted making it in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings last month. In Summey’s opinion, armed police officers in elementary schools will make them safer.
A group of concerned parents and citizens, Citizens United for Public Schools, sees other potential results from Summey’s actions. Opposing the arbitrary introduction of SRO’s into elementary schools, CUPS has called for a town hall meeting on the issue next week.
A public discussion on the issue with both sides participating seems logical since CUPS is questioning the political motivation behind Mayor Summey’s actions.
The CUPS press release (linked here) was issued on the same day that a lawsuit concerning the actions of a school resource officer in Horry County was settled.
While the officer was dismissed from the suit by the presiding judge, a combination of the Horry County Police Department, Horry County School District and South Carolina Department of Education agreed to pay $175,000 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit against those agencies.
The incident involved an alleged attack against a school resource officer by a 16 year-old autistic student. According to reports of the incident, the officer received superficial cuts while the student received five rounds and died at the scene.
The placement of school resource officers in schools does not give automatic guarantees of safety. The presence of an officer will not, necessarily, deter attacks by mentally ill individuals. Nor will that presence, necessarily, mean more safety for students.