HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The South Carolina Department of Education is offering to fund additional school resource officers district-wide.
A total of 205 officers will be hired across the state’s 81 school districts, including Horry County.
Each school in the Horry County Schools district is already protected by an armed officer. Having at least one school resource officer or security officer in every facility has been a priority for the district.
“The school board took a bold step about two years ago and implemented additional funding to have an armed officer in all of our schools and that included adding about 28 officers to our elementary schools,” said Lisa Bourcier, spokesperson for Horry County Schools.
But other school districts struggle to hire armed personnel, some without the protection of a single school resource officer, or SRO. The state Department of Education is now stepping up student safety, announcing funding for hundreds of new SROs in school districts throughout the state.
“We’re very fortunate here in Horry County to be able to provide those services at all our schools so this funding will certainly help enhance that program,” said Bourcier.
Horry County Schools is receiving funding for two additional SROs, while school districts in Florence are receiving funding for a total of 12, and four are being funded in Georgetown County. Money for SROs are also being allocated to Darlington and Dillon school districts.
In Horry County, Myrtle Beach, Conway and Loris Police Departments each provide an SRO for their respective middle and high schools. Aynor Police currently provides one. Bourcier said the district will have to decide where to place the two new officers.
“A lot of our local municipalities have school resource officers in the middle and high school levels. Aynor Police Department has one SRO that stays in the high school, we actually provide a school security officer at the middle school and elementary school in Aynor so those are things we’ll have to look into to see the best use of those funds," said Bourcier.
Districts have until January to decide where to place the additional school resource officers. Then law enforcement agencies will likely have to hire and train new officers to fill those positions.