Bluffton schools increase police presence - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Beaufort County schools increase police presence

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The national debate continues on whether or not security officers should be in all schools, but Bluffton school officials want to first make sure students are comfortable with law enforcement.

Beaufort County sheriff's deputy Alfredo Givens says by the time most students get to middle school and high school, they already have a misconception about deputies.

"We're actually trying to get into elementary schools and build a rapport with the young children so they'll understand that law enforcement officers are friendly people," he said.

Back in October, the sheriff's office started looking at the feasibility of putting deputies in elementary schools to strengthen the student-deputy relationship. Shanklin Elementary principal Jo Shirley believes children need to be exposed to the men and women who serve and protect.

"It's wonderful for our children to see all our community helpers: fireman, teachers,  policemen, deputies as someone that can help them rather than some authority figure that's not reliable."

Although schools across the country are debating the need for armed officers on campus, Shirley doesn't think that's necessary. 

"I personally don't think that's going to prevent the disasters. We are as secure as humanly possible. Unfortunately crazy people do crazy things and we can't stop that."

Lt. Givens says the possibility of having Beaufort deputies in schools relies on funding.

More research is needed to determine how effective school resource officers really area, according to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing. The studies that are out show mixed results. Some research supports the theory that simply having an officer's presence deters things like fighting and bullying in schools. Most research does not show whether it actually keeps students out of trouble outside of school.

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