Local/State

Wake schools to consider hiring guards for schools

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Wake County schools

Unarmed guards could soon patrol Wake County elementary schools.

The Wake County School Board is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to place one unarmed guard in each elementary school.

If approved, the measure would cost the district $835,000 for three months of security.

The board is considering hiring Allied Barton security, which already provides security officers for high schools across the district.

"Better to have some presence than no presence at all," School Board Chairman Keith Sutton.

Sutton said all of the Wake County's middle and high schools have armed resource officers patrolling campuses. However, only a handful of its more than 100 elementary schools do.

"We've received emails and phone calls," said Sutton. "Folks are concerned as they go to their respective schools..

The concern follows last month's massacre that killed 20 first graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. It's sparked a recent review and a recommendation to add security guards at primary schools.

"This is a way to try to help principals address this situation," said Sutton.

The problem board member Debra Goldman sees is that the guards will be unarmed.

"Say we have a shooter coming in to these schools, I would prefer to have someone armed to bring them down right on premises," said Goldman. "Because by the time they call 911, they've got access to the school they're in, they're wherever they want to be."

Goldman believes armed resource officers from local agencies are what's needed.

Sutton, however, says the price tag for that would be too high.

"I'm not saying that's not worth it," said Sutton. "We would love to have that, but the cost of that to us number one would be a huge difference in terms of what we're doing with the Allied Barton piece, plus you're talking about the local law enforcement agency having to have the manpower to absorb that."

The meeting to decide on unarmed guard is set for Tuesday afternoon.

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