$60M price-tag to hire armed officers for schools in South Carolina, parents argue it's worth it

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) - Last week, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster made it clear he wants to see armed officers at every school in South Carolina.

This week, the South Carolina Department of Education released a rough figure of what it's going to cost taxpayers to put the Governor's proposal into action.

A spokesperson for S.C.D.E. says it will cost roughly $60 million dollars, but the numbers really vary by county in terms of how much each Sheriff's Office pays officers, so it cost more or it could cost less.

The best deterrent to prevent a school shooting? Many parents argue is an armed law enforcement officer on campus.

"I believe that it would lessen the chances of someone coming in and messing with people, if they knew there was a presences." Rachel Phillips told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

"I think they should have one at every school, because you never know what could happen." Najah Donaldson said.

Retired educator Betty Huxford says it's unbelievable that in this day and age School Resources Officers aren't already on every campus. Huxford tells WJBF NewsChannel 6 she wouldn't go back to teaching for fear of what could happen to her students, and she knows firsthand active shooter drills don't work.

"We would have practice drills and the best that I could do is lock my door and hide my kids behind the lab tables." Huxford told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

The former teacher believes if a shooter knows they will be challenged they will think twice about committing the crime.

"It is the only place that's not protected," said Huxford. "We protect adults in other places, but our schools are not protected."

Only a third of schools in South Carolina hire armed deputies. In order to hire more, it would cost roughly $60 million dollars, money the state doesn't currently have.

"So the question is if we decide to do that from a legislative standpoint, where will the money come from?" Senator Tom Young, Jr. said.

A spokesperson for S.C.D.E.  says half of the $60 million dollars would be for S.R.O. salaries, while the other half would go towards training and equipment.

Still, parents say that's a small price to pay to insure their kids are safe in school.

"Do you want to see your tax dollars go to that?" Asked NewsChannel 6's Stefany Bornman.

"I mean they take them for everything else, might as well go to something useful." Donaldson said.

The State Department of Education has no database to monitor which schools in the state have S.R.O.'s.

However, out of the 1,200 schools in the state only 607 have full-time armed officers.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 


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