Education

Private, armed security officers added to Rock Hill elementary schools

All elementary schools in Rock Hill will soon have a dedicated security officer on site.

The Rock Hill school district has partnered with Allied Universal Security to add a School Security Officer to each of the district’s 17 elementary schools and the Central Child Development Center, a release sent Tuesday states.

The officers will be in the schools by the end of this month.

The additions follow a series of safety and security meetings the district held with parents, students and administration last school year. In August, the district announced it would be hiring private security for elementary schools.

“It became clear through the meetings that having an armed security officer on campus at our elementary schools was a priority,” the release states.

Safety has been made a priority in schools across the country following multiple mass shootings, such as those in Parkland, Fla. and Connecticut.

The security officers will act as first responders in emergencies and coordinate with law enforcement, according to the Rock Hill School District. The officers are responsible for preventing trespassers and unauthorized visitors from entering campus.

“Safety for all students, staff, and parents is paramount,” Mychal Frost, spokesperson for the district, said in August. “The security officers will give us a presence in every school.”

Security officers will also assist with traffic control and parking during and after school hours.

The additional officers are funded by the district at a cost of $754,487 annually, according to the school district. The contract includes 18 officers, one to serve each elementary school and one to act as a supervisor.

“Much like school resource officers, the school security officers serving our elementary schools will form relationships with students, employees and families to further ensure our campuses are safe and secure learning environments,” states the release.

School resource officers based at nearby middle and high schools are still assigned to an elementary school. The security officers will work with SROs, according to the district.

“School security officers will work in cooperation with school resource officers from the Rock Hill Police Department and York County Sheriff’s Office to provide enhanced coverage and protection at our elementary campuses,” reads the statement.

Maj. Steve Thompson, retired from the Rock Hill Police Department, will manage the school security officer program.

Officers working in the schools have at least five years of armed security service experience, according to the school district. They have backgrounds that include law enforcement, private security and military service.

Fort Mill, Clover and Chester school districts also use private security officers in conjunction with law enforcement school resource officers, The Herald previously reported.

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Amanda Harris covers issues related to children and families in York, Chester and Lancaster County for The Herald. Amanda works with local schools, parents and community members to address important topics such as school security, mental health and the opioid epidemic. She graduated from Winthrop University.
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