Rent-A-Cops in the Schools Now?

Photo credit: Mother Jones

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Halifax County School Board is planning to hire a private firm to provide security at all county schools, in addition to school resource officers (SRO).

That is the world brought to us by a gun-crazy society with its no-compromise embrace of the Second Amendment, aided by a compliant Supreme Court.

As reported by the News and Record (South Boston), the proposal calls for four school security officers (SSO) to patrol the high school, along with the school resource officers (SROs) from the sheriff and town police departments, as well as the stationing of a guard at each elementary school for the first time.

The estimated cost would be $420,000 annually. The head of the company, a county resident, claims that the company would be losing money, but, “We’re doing this because we’re in the community. We will lose roughly $10,000 a year on this contract. But it’s our county. We’re here. We live here.”

The school board has not taken final action, although there seems to be a strong sentiment to go ahead. One issue is money. The superintendent explained that they had not “figured out a plan” for allocating the money in the district’s budget.

The other fly in the ointment is whether the SSOs will be armed. The superintendent said, “We truly want them to be armed. Our board feels if we are going to have security officers, we want them to be able to fully protect our schools.”

Under state law, school security officers can be armed. However, such school security officers must be school employees and trained under standards set out by the Department of Criminal Justice Services. One idea that was floated at the board meeting was for the officers employed by the security company to also be part-time employees of the school system. There seem to be some wrinkles that still need to be worked out.