TEGA CAY — While debate rages around the country about the best way to protect students from shootings like the one that took 26 lives in Newtown, Conn., late last year, local officials decided to step up police presence at one school.
After hearing concerns related to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School during a meeting with parents, Tega Cay officials decided to post a city police officer outside Gold Hill Elementary School. This would not be an additional school resource officer like the one based inside Gold Hill Middle School next door to the elementary school, said interim City Manager Charlie Funderburk.
Obviously all of this stems from what happened in Newtown, Conn., at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Funderburk said. A good number of parents expressed concerns to the police chief and I applaud him for his initiative, he said.
Were talking about taking one of our duty officers and providing an additional presence around the school, but this is not another school resource officer who is at the school all day long. If a call comes in and the officer is needed elsewhere, the officer would be leaving the school and taking that call.
The Tega Cay Police Department is understaffed by two officers, said Funderburk, who also noted the city has a new recruit now in police academy training and is looking at resumes with the goal of hiring an additional officer. Posting an officer at Gold Hill Elementary will not come at any expense to the Fort Mill School District, officials said.
Its a good thing for us especially if were not paying for it, said Dr. Chuck Epps, Fort Mills superintendent of schools.
Its certainly a good deterrent and in case anything happens, its good to know theres another officer nearby to respond, said Fort Mill School Board Chairman Patrick White, who also hes happy to get extra protection for students with no cost to the district.