Local/State

Wake BOE forms school safety task force

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Wake County Board of Education is creating a task force to strengthen existing school safety plans.

The debate over whether to post armed or unarmed guards at Wake County elementary schools hit a boiling point last month. There was outcry from both sides. Some thought that plan went too far. Others thought that the plan didn't go far enough.

The board scrapped that plan and, at a meeting Tuesday night, tapped Sheriff Donnie Harrison to lead a special task force to draw up a more comprehensive approach.

"This concept is to go a bit deeper with what's happened recently and see if we're missing something," said Harrison.

He'll look at school construction to see if a safer school be built and whether prinicipals or teachers should get more authority during a crisis.

Board Chairman Keith Sutton said he wants the task force to put every option on the table.

"Chairman Sutton said this is what we're going to do," said Harrison. "We're going to try and make our schools as safe as possible and I need your help."

Those options could include armed guards at elementary schools just like the resource officers at wake secondary campuses.

"I'm from the old school," said Harrison. "I don't think we need school resource officers but the sign of the times have changed my mind on that."

Harrison is hoping his task force can produce a model for the state, but lawmakers at the General Assembly have ideas of their own.

Davidson County State Senator Stan Bingham is introducing a bill this week for what he calls "school safety marshals."

They would be a volunteer, armed force of mini-SWAT teams which are specially trained principals, teachers, and retired police at every North Carolina school.

"If I took my children to that school and I have you as a SWAT team member and I know you've trained for 2 years," said Bingham, "I'd feel very comfortable knowing you're there."

The goal is to have the Wake County task force complete its work in the next 90 to 120 days.

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Tags:
wake county, wake county schools, local/state, joel brown
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