JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Five Johnston County Schools are welcoming a new member to their staff.
"I was looking for something different where you know we can positively interact rather than the reactionary, so it was definitely something that sparked my interest," said Officer Scott Holzshu, who is one of two officers who will be providing coverage to the schools.
Holzshu has been with the Clayton Police Department for about 12 years and said he was immediately interested in the opportunity once the department posted the positions.
The openings were made possible by funding from the North Carolina School Safety Grants Program. The General Assembly set aside $30 million for the 2018-2019 fiscal year; Johnston County Schools received $366,663.
"Some students may have had negative interactions with law enforcement, whether it be family or them themselves and this gives us the opportunity to maybe break down those walls, have a discussion," said Holzshu.
Holzshu has spent the past week brainstorming programs to implement with Riverwood Middle School principal Jamie Stoke. Two points of emphasis are teaching students about social media safety and the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping.
"From an officers perspective, they may take it a little more seriously than from a teacher or other faculty in the building," Stoke said.
Holzshu is assigned to Riverwood Middle and Riverwood Elementary School, and Officer Aurora Mayo is working at Clayton Middle, Cooper Academy, and West Clayton Elementary.
The addition of the positions comes amid a nationwide debate over school safety following several tragedies, including last year's Parkland shooting.
"Having an officer on campus definitely provides a visual for folks as they enter the premise, and it certainly can impact that in a positive way as far as prohibiting even the thoughts of those kinds of dangers in the school," Stoke said.
He said Officer Holzshu's presence has been well-received.
"Everything has been extremely positive. We've had numerous students reach out to me in the hallway, just in carrying a conversation on, sharing how excited they are to have Officer Holzshu join our staff, as well as the parents in the community in general. I've had folks reach out via e-mail, via phone call," said Stoke.
The Clayton Town Council approved the program last month, where they funded the contracts for both officers for the next two years.
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