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Education
An in-depth look at our region's emerging economic, social, political and cultural identity.

Security Officers Added To Rock Hill Elementary Schools

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Rock Hill School officials are beefing up security and for the first time, all 17 elementary schools will have a full time security officer on campus. Rock Hill’s middle and high schools had police and sheriff security officers but Mike Johnson, the district’s director of safety says they will hire private, armed security officers for the elementary schools. 

The Clover and Fort Mill schools in York County use private security now.

“The biggest thing that got this process moving for us was a series of community engagement forums that we had over the last school year to talk about safety and security and having a presence in the elementary was one of the things that kept coming up,” Johnson said.

Johnson says they are still in the process of reviewing bids from private security companies, so it may be a couple of months before they are in place at the elementary schools. He says parents can be assured that the private security officers will be highly qualified.

“We’ve been very specific about the type of officer that we’re looking for, having an emphasis toward retired law enforcement, former military, people with experience in the security field, so many years of experience and the company itself has to have so many years of experience,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson, the district will also provide the private security officers with additional training from the district and local law enforcement agencies. District spokesperson Michael Frost says they would have preferred to have police or sheriff officers as security but said, “There is a shortage of police and not enough in many cases to fully staff existing police departments and sheriff’s offices, much less hire additional officers for the purpose of being school resource officers.”

In the past, if issues at an elementary school came up, mainly disgruntled parents or custody situations or crimes nearby, they were handled by a school police security officer from the nearest middle or high school, who was assigned to them. Frost says that will continue. They are also implementing a clear bag policy at sports events and will expand random weapons checks to middle schools this year. He says no weapons were found during random checks at high schools that began in the spring of last year.