Police officers placed at North Charleston elementary schools

By Stefanie

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Students at elementary schools in North Charleston were greeted with some new faces at school on Wednesday. That's because 13 special detail officers were placed in North Charleston elementary schools.

The man behind the decision is Mayor Keith Summey who says after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting the idea blossomed in his heart to do something to protect children in his City.

"This week each night I've had to cut the TV off quite honestly because my wife and I both start crying," Mayor of North Charleston Keith Summey said.{}"I could not live with myself if something happened at one of our elementary schools and we had not done something to try to prevent it."

On Friday, 13 special detail officers were placed in North Charleston Elementary Schools to finish off the rest of the school week until students are let go for Christmas break on Friday.

"Thursday night at council I will be requesting that they authorize me to hire 21 police officers a very expensive proposition that will give us the opportunity to put a police officer in every elementary school in North Charleston," Summey said.

The mayor said the hiring of 21 full-time police officers will begin immediately. Summey said he's looking for already certified South Carolina officers in order to get them hired fast.

The cost to hire the 21 full-time officers will be $2 million for the first year, according to Summey. The money will be taken out of the general reserve balance. After that, the average cost for the officers will be $1.5 million annually that will be worked in the annual budget.

"It's a challenge but I can't think of better money spent then to protect the lives of small children," Summey said. "Some people will think it's overkill, but I don't think so, I think it's something that should have already been there. It's just something of this nature that makes it a reality ."

Joseph Pye Elementary School parent Stacy Recore said she feels more comfortable sending her kids to school knowing there is an officer there.

"A lot of people seem to go to the schools to cause trouble because they know there are no weapons there and so that's they try it," she said. "Maybe there will be less of this violence that goes on."

North Charleston police sergeant Kathi Love supervises school resource officers. They are currently only in North Charleston middle and high schools.

"I think we have to know that these kids need help people need help there's mental health issues out there and we need to be prepared for it."

She said school resource officers have three main roles to teach, provide guidance and security. She says their presence benefits the entire community.

"We have found that if you start at an early age and kids learn to trust police officers they'll actually come to police officers and say what may have happened in the home or in the street."

Joseph Pye Elementary School Principal Wanda Williams said a police officer is the missing piece to pulling off their emergency plan.

"We've been practicing all year long we've been very proactive but just to have the added benefit of a police officer here with us is a bonus."

Williams said the school is revisiting security procedures in the aftermath of sandy hook and looks forward to possibly adding a permanent member to their emergency response team.

Lia Sestric contributed to this report.