Aiken Co. sheriff gives safety proposals to school officials

Changes in security policy are coming to Aiken County schools. (WRDW-TV)

Changes in security policy are coming to Aiken County schools. (WRDW-TV)

Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- A month and one day after the massacre in Newtown, Conn., Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt and Aiken Department of Public Safety Director Charles Barranco met with top school officials behind closed doors at the administrative building on Brookhaven Drive.

"I think by tweaking a few policies with the school administration, we'll be in good shape, as far as safety of our kids," said Sheriff Hunt, after the meeting.

Along with others, he brought his recommendations to Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt and Deputy Superintendent David Caver. He shared some of those recommendations with News 12 after the meeting, which lasted just over an hour.

"Well, we're not going to discuss specifics, because we don't want the bad guy to learn the specifics," he said.

However, we did learn that teachers and administrators at the district's 39 schools will get U.S. Department of Homeland Security training.

"We have that policy that we're getting ready to put in place and start training on. As a matter of fact, they're going to start training the administration of the schools next Wednesday, I think," Hunt said.

Each of the district's 39 schools will now have the same lockdown policies. Just a couple weeks ago, North Augusta Department of Public Safety SWAT members toured North Augusta schools and found that policies differed from school to school.

"We need to be similar in our drills and procedures from Ridge Spring to North Augusta to Jackson. We want it all the same for their sake and our sake also," said Deputy Superintendent Caver.

As far resource officers in every school, Caver says that's out of the picture right now. He estimates it would cost around $2 million each year.

That's money the district doesn't have.

"We certainly would like one in all the schools but realize that funding's an issue there," he said.

Sheriff Hunt and Chief Barranco both agree that arming teachers or faculty members is not the answer. They say it's dangerous. Hunt says it would create confusion for officers responding to the scene, and it would be a huge liability.

"Our main goal is to keep these schools safe," he said.

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