CAROLINE, VA (WWBT) - The Caroline County sheriff made a passionate plea to county supervisors Tuesday night - pitching a plan to hire more school resource officers. It was a packed house, as those supporting the sheriff joined him at the Board of Supervisors meeting.
"This isn't a want. It's a need," Sheriff Tony Lippa said.
"God knows I never want to see Caroline County in the news, where we didn't go in and protect our most valuable resource that we have, which is our children, because we decided 'well we just don't have the money this time around,'" a citizen said during a public hearing.
Caroline County neighbors came to speak their minds.
"They feel more comfortable going to a resource officer officer, unfortunately, than the principal, and I think that's because they are our protectors," parent Kim Taylor added.
"I want everyone's support, because it's up to all of us," Lippa said.
He says it's time to add a school resource officer at every school in Caroline County. Right now, he has two.
There are five public schools in Caroline and one private school. Lippa is requesting four more officers - which would cost the county about $90,000 per officer, when you consider salary, training, a police car and gear.
While advocates say this will keep your students safe, there have been a few hiccups lately when it comes to officers on school grounds.
In Alexandria, an officer accidentally fired his gun inside a middle school Tuesday. No one was hurt, but the officer was placed on leave.
In last month's deadly school shooting in Florida, an officer resigned after reports he stayed outside as the shooting was taking place.
Lippa says that's where training comes in, to make sure school resource officers understand safety is a priority.
"It's not just for the kids as I've said. It also saves and protects our staff, our administrators...at the schools, the teachers," he added.
"Hope you guys can find the money to fund it, because we need this," a citizen said.
"Help protect our children," another added.
Members of the Board of Supervisors said they're still going over the budget, still crunching the numbers. Supervisor Floyd Thomas called school resource officers a priority. The board will vote on its budget at the end of the month.
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