Law enforcement and school officials in a western North Carolina county have committed to hiring armed security for every school in their district, the Charlotte Observer reported.
During a school security news conference on March 15, Henderson County leaders announced the goal to increase their school’s security in the wake of the deadly shooting last month in Parkland, Florida.
“It is my intention … to have permanently assigned, highly trained and vetted and skilled armed security personnel working in all our public schools,” said Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald.
This will include all 23 public schools in the western North Carolina community, located near Asheville, that currently enrolls 14,000 students.
McDonald explained that armed personnel will be required to pass the same vetting system put in place for law enforcement officers, including specialized training, polygraph and psychological examinations.
“It’s going to be a pretty tough standard,” he said.
Instead of using armed volunteers, Henderson County school security personnel will be paid.
Henderson County will hire armed school guards, instead of using unpaid but still armed school volunteers, to beef up school safety. is this an approach North Carolina school districts might adopt following the Parkland school shooting? #nced #ncpol https://t.co/b9GWrQvXGz
— Keung Hui (@nckhui) March 19, 2018
Amy Lynn Holt, Henderson County Public Schools Board of Education Chair, argued that the status quo is no longer sufficient to protect students who are in the school’s care.
“Henderson County has always been a sleepy little town,” she said at the news conference. “We’ve not felt like we’re threatened here. Well, we have to start acting like we’re threatened.”
Although the proposal of having armed teachers in schools has also been discussed as a possible security measure, parents and officials ultimately decided against it.
“The consensus from the populace of Henderson County seems to be that we need security people to do security and we need teachers to be able to teach,” said the sheriff.
President Donald Trump met with Sheriff McDonald and other officials to discuss school safety following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“The thing I was impressed with, it wasn’t about the press, wasn’t about the politics, it was really about getting some heads together to figure out solutions,” McDonald told the Times-News after the discussion. “I think we’re going to see some positive steps forward.”
The goal of Henderson officials is to have armed security in place at all the county’s schools by the start of the 2018-19 school year.
See the full school security news conference below:
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.