PICKENS COUNTY—Local law enforcement, along with city and county officials, discussed the possibility of adding 16 more school resource officers to local schools Monday evening.
The Pickens County School Board called a meeting to discuss school safety, and Vice Chairman Ben Trotter said the main concern is for elementary students.
“We’ve had a lot of concerns about security after the Connecticut massacre,” Trotter said. “We have 16 elementary schools in the School District of Pickens County, and we have to have resource officers of some kind in each of those schools.”
Trotter said it is time for something to be done.
“We’ve got to protect the teachers as well as the students,” Trotter said. “We’re going to need some help with this. It’s going to be hard to come up with 16 or 17 resource officers, but we have to have better security. There’s never going to be a 100 percent way of doing this, but I think we can improve. We’re just trying to do all we can.”
The school board led a roundtable discussion with officials from the Easley Police Department, Pickens Police Department, Pickens County Sheriff’s Office and many more. The purpose of the meeting was to begin discussions about more precautions that could be taken.
Alex Saitta, Pickens representative on the school board, said he has already noticed a difference.
“Officers (in the county) have really stepped up their presence in the past few months,” Saitta said. “I walk into a school and I’m seeing police cars there, where in the past I hadn’t. We really appreciate that initiative.”
Superintendent Kelly Pew said other steps are also being taken towards safer schools.
“We have volunteer SLED checks,” Pew said. “Any volunteer that wants to work in our schools has to have a SLED check. We’ve even asked, since Christmas time, that all of our teachers keep their classroom doors locked. That’s just another way of making sure that somebody that should not be in a classroom is not in there.”
In addition to SLED checks, students and teachers also participate in lockdown drills frequently.
“We have practice lockdown drills that train our students and teachers on what to do if somebody were to come in,” Pew said. “Our school resource officers are watching those drills, being a part of them and giving feedback on them.”
“Our elementary schools are the schools that need the most security,” Pew said.
Trotter said it is time to begin preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.
“The officers we have are doing a good job now, but I’m not 100 percent sure that if we have (an officer) in every school it will full protect (the students),” Trotter said. “This might never happen around here, but you have to prepare for the one time that it might.”
“We’ve got to do something,” Trotter continued. “We can’t sit back, wait and say ‘if only.’ This is our ‘if only’ moment.”