IRMO, S.C. — On Monday, the Lexington-Richland 5 school board voted unanimously to arm members of the district's security team.
The decision allows three employees, who are not officers but have prior law enforcement experience, to carry a concealed weapon at schools.
According to the board, the employees have been trained by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to respond to active threats.
The employees will be based at Chapin, Dutch Fork and Irmo High Schools, but will visit other schools in the area, shifting locations to help where needed.
"We are in our schools actively every day," one security guard said in the meeting, "We're active shooter trained.... partnered with our law enforcement partners here. They know that we're going to be carrying, and what we're going to be wearing, and who we are. They also know if we're in a school and an active shooter begins, we will respond to it, immediately."
Already, the district has hired a private security firm to cover schools without a school resource officer (SRO).
The newly-armed security team won't be able to arrest, but can hold an attacker in place, adding to the district's emergency response capabilities, according to Superintendent Dr. Akil Ross.
"Without protection, they've ran into situations and I just want to make sure that we've given them all the tools they need because they've already proven they'll give everything for our children," Superintendent Ross said.
The Lexington County Sheriff's Department provides SRO's to the district and spoke to News19 ahead of Monday's decision.
In a statement the sheriff said the employees have the insight and skill to carry a firearm and his department looks forward to assisting.