FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Pee Dee school districts are beefing up security at schools with more School Resource Officers.
Florence County school districts recently hired four new SROs all funded through a $2 million state grant awarded to 38 schools across South Carolina in 2018.
The four new Florence County SROs started their positions the past Monday, bringing the total of full-time SROs in the county to 15.
"It is very helpful to be able to put 4 extra officers in our schools at a little cost to us," Lt. Troy Enzor with the FCSO SRO program said. "The total cost for an SRO is roughly 112, 113 thousand dollars so it is a good bit of money to get one up and running with a vehicle and equipment."
Hannah Pamplico High School in Florence County School District 2, Scranton Elementary in FCSD3, the Timmonsville Education Center in FCSD4 and Johnsonville Middle in FCSD5 all received a new resource officer.
Lt. Enzor said while the grant doesn’t fully fund the position, it covers most of the expenses, which is very important for small rural school districts who may not have the means to adequately hire a resource officer.
Neal Vincent, FCSD2 Superintendent, said the district has only had one SRO for the past decade, because of the areas low taxpaying ability.
"Majority of our budget is spent on personnel with a focus on teaching and learning and we haven't been able to put a resource officer that was cut during the recession back in," Vincent said.
Vincent said before, the SRO would split her time between schools looking after a total of 1200 students. Now with 2 full-time SROs, there's a sense of relief.
"It's nice not to have to worry about if there's an emergency on the campus at the same time which emergency would the SRO have to work through," he said.
Lt. Enzor said aside from enforcing the law, SROs can develop closer relationships with the students.
"They also can have a role as a mentor and counselor for the students and assist in those types of ways," Lt. Enzor said.
It’s something Superintendent Vincent believes is especially important when it comes building trust and ultimately a safer school district.
"Having a relationship it's not someone who's assigned to us on a rotating basis or assigned to us on a call, we have the deputies and resource officers here every day," Vincent said.
Other school districts that received SRO funding are Marlboro, Marion and Dillon Counties. Vincent said the grant funds the position for 3 years.