As part of measures to beef up security, a rural North Carolina county will provide an AR-15 assault rifle for each school, the Asheville Citizen Times reported.
Madison County Schools and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office cooperated on the decision, which also includes keeping in the safe extra magazines and breaching tools in order to break through a barricade set up by an attacker.
Sheriff Buddy Harwood said he understands why some may not support a plan where school resource officers potentially handle AR-15s, but said it is a necessary move after the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in May in which 19 students and two teachers were murdered by a lone gunman.
"Those officers were in that building for so long, and that suspect was able to infiltrate that building and injure and kill so many kids," Harwood told the Asheville Citizen Times. "I just want to make sure my deputies are prepared in the event that happens."
Harwood added that "the reason we put the breaching tools in the safes is that in the event we have someone barricaded in a door, we won't have to wait on the fire department to get there. We'll have those tools to be able to breach that door if needed. I do not want to have to run back out to the car to grab an AR, because that's time lost. Hopefully we'll never need it, but I want my guys to be as prepared as can be."
Superintendent Will Hoffman said in a statement on Monday that the school system will also fund school resource officers for each of the schools in the district. He said the people filling these positions "are highly trained in the use of firearms and de-escalation strategies." In addition, he said they build strong relationships with students.
Madison County School includes three elementary schools, a middle school, and two high schools.
Harwood said, "I hate that we've come to a place in our nation where I've got to put a safe in our schools, and lock that safe up for my deputies to be able to acquire an AR-15. But we can shut it off and say it won't happen in Madison County, but we never know."
Other measures in the new safety plan includes a panic button system that reports to a monitoring center in each school building, as well as hiring a safety liaison for the school system, The Washington Times reported.
In addition, the school resource officers and teachers will participate in a training exercise later this month on how to deal with emergency scenarios.
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