COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Hundreds of school resources officers in South Carolina schools are now patrolling the hallways with the basic law enforcement equipment, but thanks to a partnership with a company from right here in South Carolina, that equipment is now being upgraded.
More than 800 schools in South Carolina have at least one school resource officer, who is usually employed by the local law-enforcement department.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department has more than 80 SROs, 1 in each elementary, middle and high school.
“They get involved with the kids in everything they do, going to the classes, walking the hallways,” said RCSD Sheriff Leon Lott.
The school resource officers tote the basic law enforcement uniform and gear, including a department-issued firearm and bulletproof vest. But that standard equipment needs to be upgraded.
Sheriff Lott continued, “We’re finding out in active shooters in schools it tends not to be a pistol or revolver it tends to be a high powered rifle.”
Currently issued bulletproof vests can’t handle those high-powered rifles. US Patriot Tactical, a military and law enforcement supplier, decided to make a change and donate active shooter vests.
The vests SROs wear now are soft-body and bend easily. However, the active shooter vests come with a steel plate, as well as, additional easy-to-reach pockets that can store extra ammo or weapons.
“Active shooter vests have plates. They will stop anything. It’s the same thing our military wears. It will stop a rifle round if they need to engage in that fight if necessary to take down that shooter and save the school,” explained Sheriff Lott.
RCSD expects to have all of its vests for school resource officers by the end of the week.
The vests cost about $350 and last for about 10 years.
Right now the state has a little more than 800 school resource officers in the state’s more than 1200 schools.