Parents and students say they feel safer tonight in one Spartanburg school district thanks to the addition of off-duty deputies patrolling some elementary schools.
Starting Monday, armed off-duty deputies will offer patrols and protection at all of Spartanburg District Six's elementary schools. School resource officers are already in place at the district's middle and high schools.
"When the unspeakable tragedy occurred, I think you look at what you've been doing, could anything be done to be a deterrent from anything like this from happening in the future," said Darryl Owings, Superintendent for Spartanburg District Six. "We felt like having training, professional police officers in an elementary school would serve as a great deterrent."
It's a part-time job for the deputies but a full-time commitment to keep everyone safe. And that's reassuring to those who are learning and those who are teaching.
"I feel good about it, to be in a district that's taking that first step to get officers in our schools so our parents do feel comfortable about, you know, this is their most valuable possession," said Anderson Mill Elementary School Principal Beth Haun. "And they bring their children to school every day, trusting that we're going to keep them safe."
School district officials said it will cost an extra $216,000 to cover the cost of having deputies in elementary schools for the rest of the school year. They say they're willing to spend extra money since you can't put a price tag on the safety of children.
"The feedback has been very positive," Haun said. "I, myself, as a parent, drove up to an elementary school this morning and saw a professional officer there, opening doors, greeting students. And, as a parent, that meant a lot to me."
Spartanburg District Three leaders said by the end of the week, they should have officers patrolling all seven of their schools during the peak periods of drop-off and pick-up times. Their patrols will be a combination of deputies and officers from Pacolet and Cowpens police departments.
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