Local representative files bill to place officer at every SC school

Rep. Bakari Sellers
Rep. Bakari Sellers (WRDW-TV)
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Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- In the afternoon car-line at Byrd Elementary in Graniteville, the massacre in Connecticut is still fresh on the minds of parents like Jemond Smith.

"I was very restless all day. My wife actually came and got my daughter out of school early," he said.

A few weeks later, there's something bothering Smith and parent Nora Williams, too. Most middle schools and elementary schools don't have a school resource officer on campus.

"There's security in high schools, but you don't really hear about it in the younger grades, and as we saw with the school in Connecticut, it might be a useful thing," Williams said.

"I actually think we should get some type of federal or state funding that allows us to have school resource officers at every school, including elementary schools," Smith said.

That's exactly what Rep. Bakari Sellers of Bamberg, Barnwell and Colleton Counties (District 90) is proposing. He filed the bill at the start of session on Tuesday.

"What people have to realize is that I'm trying to do what's in the best interests of students and children and parents. That's it. It's no lobby. I'm not trying to do what's in the best interests of the NRA," Sellers said.

Sellers already proposed the idea to superintendents in Barnwell, Bamberg and Colleton counties. Now, he's hoping the whole state will adopt the measure.

"We can't mandate it, and by law, it says the school boards must. It can't be something that comes from us right now, but maybe we can change that, and maybe we can change it and make sure that they have the money. The last thing I want to do is send an unfunded mandate," he said.

Opponents say that it would cost a lot. They add that one officer may not stop a gunman in the first place.

Williams says that's no excuse.

"I think that they should find the money for something like that. That's important. I think a lot of money is spent on things that aren't necessarily important," she said.

The House bill (3237) is short but to the point. It ensures a continuous presence of a student resource officer at all public schools in South Carolina. It also gives them full arrest powers on campus.

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