Polk County preparing to hire school resource officers

Published 10:52pm Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Polk County Middle School and elementary schools could soon see law enforcement presence as county commissioners approved funding for two resource officers.

Commissioners met Monday, Feb. 3 and approved a budget amendment to take $31,852 from the fund balance to pay for the officers from Feb. 4 through the end of the year.

Interviews for officers are occurring this week and it is expected an agreement will be finalized and the officers working within a few weeks.

The hiring of the officers is part of a school security task force the county formed following the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

The task force recommended several measures be taken to improve safety at Polk schools, including adding a resource officer at the middle school and another floating resource officer for the elementary schools at Polk Central, Saluda, Sunny View and Tryon.

The officers will be employees of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and partially funded through the county and a $28,000 grant the school system was awarded last year.

Commissioners plan to discuss funding for other school security recommendations during workshops for the upcoming fiscal year 2014-2015 budget. Commissioners have specifically mentioned wanting to fund video cameras at all schools, estimated at $143,000 with the school system agreeing to fund $100,000 of the total and central monitoring of the cameras estimated at $10,000, which the county plans to fund.

The school system has also applied for a grant to install panic alarms, estimated at $14,000.

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