A county in North Carolina is taking some action in hopes that what happened in Uvalde, Texas won’t happen in any of their schools.
When the school year begins in Madison County, North Carolina, it will come with what is being called the county sheriff’s enhanced safety features. What are those features? AR-15 rifles.
The Asheville Citizen-Times interviewed Sheriff Buddy Harwood, and he said that the new measure for this school year comes in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
“Those officers were in that building for so long, and that suspect was able to infiltrate that building and injure and kill so many kids. I just want to make sure my deputies are prepared in the event that happens,” Harwood said in the interview.
There are six schools in the district in that county, three of them are elementary schools. All six will have an AR-15 that will be handled by school resource officers who have been undergoing training at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Harwood said.
The schools have also added social workers and school counselors as a part of the year’s safety and security plan.
The sheriff also said that along with the rifle, there will be a safe in each school that has additional breaching tools and additional magazines with ammunition. Harwood’s staff have met with first responders and other law enforcement and security officials.
“We’ll have those tools to be able to breach that door if needed. I do not want to have to run back out to the car to grab an AR because that’s time lost,” Harwood said. “Hopefully, we’ll never need it, but I want my guys to be as prepared as prepared can be.”
Each school will also be equipped with a panic button system that is connected to a monitoring center.
Will Hoffman is the county’s superintendent of schools. He said that school administrators have had regular meetings with local law enforcement to talk about all the new measures. Hoffman has also been assured that law enforcement can monitor school camera systems.
The North Carolina sheriff confessed that he hates that America is at a place where AR-15s need to be kept in his schools, but he now believes it is necessary to help keep children alive.
“We can shut it off and say it won’t happen in Madison County, but we never know. I want the parents of Madison County to know we’re going to take every measure necessary to ensure our kids are safe in this school system. If my parents, as a whole, want me to stand at the door with that AR strapped around that officer’s neck, then I’m going to do whatever my parents want as a whole to keep our kids safe,” Harwood said.
One week before the students enter the schools, the school system and the sheriff’s office will conduct live scenario training. This will include all the district teachers.
The decision to arm the schools has been controversial. Some have argued that having firearms in schools can create more dangerous situations or firearm incidents.
The Giffords Law Center has found almost 100 publicly reported incidents of mishandled guns in schools in the last five years.
But a report by Texas lawmakers found that the tragic shooting in Uvalde was the result of “systemic failures and egregious poor decision making” among responding law enforcement.
In the report, it was revealed that 376 law enforcement officers responded to the shooting, but there was no clear leadership or communication.
The gunman was barricaded inside a classroom with children for more than an hour even while there were officers armed right outside of the classroom. The report indicated that it is plausible some of the children would be alive if they had not had to wait 73 minutes for rescue.
North Carolina is not going to let that happen to them.