McMaster: School Resource Officers Are A Priority

According to McMaster, his budget proposal will use $5 million to go towards funding student resource officers in many of the rural areas of the state.

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Governor McMaster held a school safety summit Thursday, bringing together leaders in education, law enforcement and mental health, to speak on ways to keep children safe.

"The priority is to stop these shooters," said McMaster.

McMaster believes the way to stop the shooters are to make sure all schools in the state have a trained officer on the grounds.

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"The best and quickest way to do that is to have a certified, trained law enforcement officer on that campus and let the would-be shooters know it," he said.

His budget proposal will use $5 million to go towards funding student resource officers (SROs) in many of the rural areas of the state.

This comes just one week after he told media he would sign a bill to arm South Carolina teachers, a debate taking place nationwide.

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"Personally, I don't agree with arming teachers. This is not why teachers enter the profession. Teachers are nurturers, they aren't trained security guards," said Patrick Kelly, a teacher in the Midlands.

Kelly said he doesn't believe arming teachers is the solution.

"Admitting that the only solution is to arm teachers is an acceptance that school violence is inevitable, which I don't believe," he said.

Jacorie McCall, a high school student from Dillon County, attended Thursday's summit, and he said arming teachers could backlash.

"They already have to go through so much training. They already have to go through so many state and federal mandates, I think adding gun training is another mandate for something they don't get paid for," McCall said.

Kelly believes there are more proactive solutions to try to prevent the violent act from occurring, instead of being equipped to respond when it happens.

"I think we need to focus more on the prevention side, in particular on providing emotional and social support for our students," he said.

State Superintendent Molly Spearman said she wants both teachers and students trained in seeing the signs of potential threats at school.

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"Children are coming to school with more social and emotional behavior problems that they aren't trained to work with, so they need help. For several years, we hae been saying that every student needs access to a mental health counselor," she said.

Whether it's adding more SRO's or mental health counselors, all involved said this is not a school problem, but a community solution.

McMaster hopes lawmakers will implement his proposal to fund school resource officers.