In the wake of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and 6 adults were slain Friday by a lone gunman, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey is proposing that the city should pay to put police officers in every elementary school in the city.
The proposal would require the city to hire 21 police officers, at an annual cost of about 1.5 million, the mayor said. An extra half-million would be needed in the first year, for cars and equipment.
“We will not be seeking funding from the school board for the police positions,” Summey said. “I have called a majority of the council members already, and they seem to agree.”
Meanwhile, the mayor said the city will put 12 officers and a supervisor in elementary schools starting tomorrow morning. Currently, two officers are assigned to visit elementary schools.
Summey said the officers will be assigned to schools on a rotating basis. The plan is to station one officer in every elementary school by the end of January.
“After the event that occurred last Friday, this is probably something that should have been considered,” he said. “We’re going to move forward now, if council approves it.”
He said there’s always a risk of copycat crimes.
“If something happens, and we have done what we can, then I can live with it better,” Summey said. “I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
He also said it would also be helpful for children to establish relationships with police officers, starting in elementary school.
“Hopefully we can establish better relationships with the children, that will carry forward into middle and high schools.
The Charleston School District responded with a statement that did not specifically address the mayor’s suggestion, but supported the idea of working with elected officials on security issues.
“We must have safe and orderly schools for our children,” Charleston School District Superintendent Nancy McGinley said, in a prepared statement. “We welcome the support from our elected leaders like Mayor Summey and our law enforcement professionals about how best to ensure student and adult safety.
“Without their help, this dark cloud of horrific violence will continue to hang over our heads, and we will not be able to get back to our core business — teaching and learning,” she said.
Read more in upcoming editions of The Post and Courier.