One county in western North Carolina has reacted pro-actively to the Florida school shooting on Valentine’s Day, deciding to hire and assign armed security guards in every public school.
In Henderson County, where 14,000 students are part of the school system, officials said people with law enforcement or military backgrounds will serve at all 23 schools starting in the 2018-19 school year. School board chairwoman Amy Lynn Holt stated, “Henderson County has always been a sleepy little town. We’ve not felt like we’re threatened here. Well, we have to start acting like we’re threatened.”
Henderson County differs from neighboring counties which are using volunteer school resource officers; Stanly County will start using volunteer school resource officers in April at four elementary schools. As the News & Observer notes, “Johnston County is also considering the possibility of using armed volunteers, while the Rockingham County sheriff wants to use armed volunteers in his county’s schools.”
Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald said it would be difficult to find enough volunteers “to be able to hold the kind of standards that we want,” adding that the armed security guards won’t be sworn law enforcement officers, but still have to be vetted the way deputies are, as well as go through psychological testing.
Henderson County Manager Steve Wyatt echoed, “As the sheriff alluded to, you can’t just pick people off the street.”
McDonald concluded, “The consensus here from the Henderson County populace is that we need security people to do security. We need teachers to be able to teach.”