Police officers added to every Mt. Pleasant elementary school

MT. PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD)- Wednesday marks the one month anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. In response to local concerns about child safety, the Mt. Pleasant Town Council voted to add school resource officers to every elementary school in the town.

Principal of Charles Pinckney Elementary, Leanne Sheppard, says, "We have heard from many parents and they're asking very valid questions. They just want answers about what we're doing as a school district and as a school to protect our children."

In Charleston County School District, school resource officers are in every middle and high school. Whether they are also in elementary schools is left up to each law enforcement agency. This week, Mt. Pleasant Police Department added police officers at the elementary level.

Sheppard says, "I'm already sleeping better at night the last few nights knowing that we have this added tier of protection for our children."

Pinckney Elementary's Principal says it's not just about preparing for the worst, but these Mt. Pleasant police officers could bring an added benefit to the school.

Sheppard says, "We are going to take advantage of the opportunity for the police officers to build relationships with our students. They will have opportunities to go into classrooms and talk to students about stranger danger, or internet safety, and I think it's an opportunity for us to build trust between children and the officers."

Right now the officers in the elementary schools are receiving overtime pay for an "off duty-type assignment". In order to sustain the program next year, the city would need to hire more officers, costing upward of $800,000. Mayor Will Haynie says the town council is determined to find that money in the budget wherever they can.

Haynie says, "It gives Mt. Pleasant's people and Mt. Pleasant's elected leaders a good sense of security to know that we've done this."

The overtime pay for the officers will cost the town more than $100,000 for the remainder of the school year. Mayor Haynie says there is plenty to cover the cost in the police department's budget, but the council will need to approve the funding at Tuesday night's meeting.


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