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Lexington-Richland 5 looks to arm some employees with law enforcement background

The employees will not have all the privileges of law enforcement, but will be able to carry concealed as school resource officers remain in short supply.

IRMO, S.C. — Lexington-Richland Five is moving forward on a proposal to arm members of its security team.

The move, if passed, would allow at least three employees, who are not officers, but have prior law enforcement experience, to carry a concealed weapon.

"They cannot arrest," Board Chair Jan Hammond said, "but they can hold in place until law enforcement is there.”

The decision comes, Hammond said, as the Lexington County Sheriff's Department works to hire more school resource officers (SROs).

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"We're hoping that Sheriff Koon will fill those slots," Hammond said.

In the meantime, the district has hired a private security firm to cover schools at an additional cost.

The proposal to arm some district employees would provide extra protection with Superintendent Dr. Akil Ross saying those chosen will be trained.

"We've talked to Chief Mark Keel of (the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division)," Dr. Ross said. "He’s recommended that the three safety officers receive their qualifications of marksmanship.”

While the proposal still has one more reading to be approved, the Lexington County Sheriff's Department said they're ready to help where needed.

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In a statement to News19, Sheriff Jay Koon said, "The employees referenced in the proposed policy, which is unrelated to SRO coverage levels, are former certified law enforcement officers. They have the insight, skills and training to properly carry and use a firearm. We have a strong working relationship with these individuals and the administrators who lead them at the district office. We’re all committed to providing a safe environment at each campus for all students, staff and visitors. We’ve been in contact with the district about the program and look forward to helping administrators any way we can if this proposal becomes district policy."

The school board is scheduled to meet again for continued discussions on September 12th at the Center For Advanced Technical Studies, 916 Mount Vernon Church Road in Chapin.

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