Wednesday, January 9 2013 7:11 PM EST2013-01-10 00:11:44 GMT
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The national debate over curbing gun violence has hit the Lowcountry. Already Georgetown County and the City of North Charleston will employ officers at their schools. On WednesdayMore >>
The national debate over curbing gun violence has hit the Lowcountry. Already Georgetown County and the City of North Charleston will employ officers at their schools.More >>
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The issue of security in schools has become a top priority in the Lowcountry. Police, school and community leaders discussed the need for security during a meeting on Wednesday.
At the core of the discussion: whether or not police are really needed.
The Charleston County School District held an open forum to talk about what security measures are already in place and how effective they are.
"It gives them an overview of what we have in place as a district," said Jeff Scott, director of security and emergency management for CCSD. "And, I think you need to complete information on where we stand as a district to make a district of any added value that anything else brings to the table."
Scott compiled a presentation of percentages showing how many schools are mission-ready and how many are not.
"When we're looking at the schools security-wide we're looking at the schools outside in. Start looking at the perimeter. As you get closer to the kids, the security should get tighter and the procedures should get tighter," Scott said.
Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon held a press conference Wednesday to remind the community how important it is to be trained in how to respond during an emergency.
"It can certainly enhance security of that school it certainly not ought be viewed as the sole solution," Sheriff Cannon said.
A community organization called Citizens United for Public Schools does not agree.
"We don't feel like guns in elementary schools is a good idea," said Dot Scott, a member of the organization.
Scott says police officers should generate a relationship with students outside of the classroom.
"I just don't believe that when you've got an environment where you preach and teach zero tolerance for guns. If kids believe that having a gun is what protects me, we're sending mixed messages to them," Scott said.
CCSD is set to vote on police officers in elementary schools on Monday.
Susan Haire with the Berkeley County School District said its superintendent met last week with county and city law enforcement to talk generally about security.
Haire says the district is planning an audit some time next week that will evaluate a number of things – the question of officers in schools, whether door locks are working, visitor IDs, general security protocols.
Haire said no specific changes to current operations have been made.
"We are taking security issues very seriously and we're trying to learn a lot from the Connecticut incident," Haire said.
So far, Georgetown County Schools is the only Lowcountry school district to implement the idea of putting a police officer in every school.
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