NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said he plans to ask council members to authorize him to hire full time police officers for elementary schools in the city following the deadly shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that took the lives of 20 children.
"I've started talking with council members. Thursday night at council, I'll be requesting they authorize me to hire 21 police officers," Summey said on Tuesday. "A very expensive proposition that will give us the opportunity to put a full time police officer in every elementary school in the City of North Charleston."
Students at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. returned to class with tightened security and families still on edge on Tuesday following last week's school massacre where 20 children were shot to death by a gunman along with six adults at the school.
"My heart just sank when I saw what can happen in a very short period of time," Summey said."I could not live with myself if something happened at one of our elementary schools and we had not done something to prevent it."
As it stands right now, SROs or school resource officers are stationed only at North Charleston high schools and middle schools. Sgt. Kathi Love of the North Charleston Police Department said officers can provide additional security, as well as build a rapport with students.
"I think it's always important to teach that at the younger age - that the police [aren't] always there to arrest," Sgt. Love said. "It's important for kids to know that we're there for everything."
According to Summey, the estimated cost of the police officers at the elementary schools for the first year would be $2 million and the cost the following year would be $1.5 million.
"Having raised our own children and knowing what they each mean to us and now these grandchildren, the most vulnerable of all of our children in our school system is our elementary children," Summey said.