Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Wednesday, the Richland County Council approved their budget for the next fiscal year which starts on July first.
There's money in the budget to help hire 14 full time student resource officers (SRO) for elementary schools in Richland District One. There's also money to help update the sheriff's department technology.
"Having a SRO in an elementary school, middle and high school all day every single day, it gives kids someone that they can count on, someone that they can trust," said Captain Chris Cowan with the Richland County Sheriff's Department.
Before County Council's vote to add 14 student resource officers in Richland One Elementary schools... they had a SRO in every middle and high school.. But the elementary schools had to share officers... Meaning there was not a full time officer in each school.
"We want to take any and all measures that we can to protect the safety of our students and our staff," said Karen York with the Richland One School District.
The total initial cost for the new officers is $1.6 million, for their salary, new vehicles and other equipment. Council will pay $800,000 and the district will pay the remaining $800,000. York says protecting students is worth the investment.
"A deputy's car alone can often be a deterrent, the presence of a law enforcement officer is very reassuring to students," said York.
Chris Cowan says security is important but the SRO's serve other purposes.
"The SRO's are in the schools teaching, they are in the classroom, they are on the playing fields, they are in the lunch room working with the children they are small groups counseling and mentoring," said Cowan.
Also approved by council was providing the sheriff's department with $722,000 to upgrade their 15 year old recording system.
"Our current system is dash cams in every vehicle and they record to VHS tapes."
With the new funds, the department is looking at different platforms for replacing the mobile data terminals in each deputies car.
"Whether it's a tablet or a laptop or a handheld...whatever the case is but we are looking at those platforms now."
Also from Wednesdays meeting, property taxes will go up. It is to be determined how much.