Sheriffs Want To Put Armed Volunteers In Schools

Mar 13, 2018

In some rural North Carolina counties, sheriffs are taking advantage of a state law passed in 2013 that allows them to recruit armed volunteers for school security. That's happening in two central North Carolina counties - Rockingham and in Stanly, where the school board voted last week to begin a pilot in four remote schools. 

Stanly County Schools superintendent Jeff James

"The best of all worlds would be to have funding to put school resource officers in every school. But with limited funds to do that this we feel is the next best option," said Stanly Superintendent Jeff James.

North Carolina lawmakers adopted a law allowing the move five years ago after the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut. Sheriffs have taken a new interest in the idea since last months killings at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

James said the volunteers would be people who have used guns in current or past careers.

"These are highly trained individuals so the people chosen have to be current military police or a member of the military that has a clean record, a retired military personnel or a retired officer," he said.

Those volunteers will go through extensive background checks and the same training as school resource officers, police officers assigned to schools, he said. And their authority will be limited to the schools where they're posted.

James said the pilot will begin within 4 to 6 weeks at four elementary schools in remote parts of the county that don't currently have school-based police officers.

In Rockingham County, Sheriff Sam Page also wants to train and use armed volunteers.

"They are directly accountable to the sheriff or the chief of police, or their designee, who would supervise the program," Page told WUNC's "State of Things" last week.

The person would have to show firearms qualifications, pass a physical exam and have previous work experience with firearms, Page said. 

Like James, he would prefer full-time paid school resource officers. But lacking that, this is a good option, Page said. 

RELATED LINKS

March 7, 2018, WUNC.org, "Rockingham County Sheriff Wants Armed Volunteers In Schools"