Group says officer presence in schools a 'knee-jerk reaction'

By Ava

Charleston, S.C. (WCIV) --{}Walking down the hallways of Chicora Elementary and checking locked doors is the new routine for North Charleston officer Charles Green.

However, a group wants to re-examine the mayor's decision to put Green there.

"Mayor Keith Summey and the North Charleston City Council have decided to place armed police officers in our public schools in response to the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school," said{}Citizens United for Public Schools member Dot Scott.

The group disagrees with the city's decision to place officers like Green in elementary schools.

"North Charleston's decision is troubling for a number of reasons," said Scott. {}

Scott said the city doesn't have the right to make the call on officers in schools.

"I think what should have happened before the decision was made, was to hear from the community. The people who have a stake in the education and the safety of these children," said Scott. {}

At a meeting last week, Summey and the City Council voted to place the armed officers in all elementary school in the city without waiting for school board members to make a decision.

Board members said the decision lacks uniformity across all county schools.{}

"One of the concerns that we have is due process are our children and parents being afforded due process, under the law and having law enforcement inside of schools," said CCSD Board of trustees member Elizabeth Moffly.

Moffly said they are looking into who has jurisdiction over schools. CUPS member Howie Comen said it's a simple question of whether parents want police in schools.

"We want to have a dialogue on school safety. That is the defining issue that were trying to deal with now. We're trying to find out what the general public wants.

Summey responded to the group, saying it was his responsibility as mayor to protect the citizens of North Charleston.

"Finger pointing and name calling never solves problems and it is a sad day when we are criticized for taking action to protect the most vulnerable among us, our young children," Summey said in a statement. "How could we live with ourselves if a child was harmed and nothing was done to try to prevent it?"

Summey went on to say that he would not risk the safety of North Charleston's children because of the complaints of a few people.

Citizens United for Public Schools will host a town meeting Jan. 9 at the Alfred William's Community Center in North Charleston at 6:30 p.m.