Exclusive: Wake County sheriff talks school safety after Florida shooting

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- The Broward County Sheriff has been very vocal about changes he would like to see in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, but when it comes to school security in the Triangle, we wondered what Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison would like to see.

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ABC11 reporter Stephanie Lopez reached out to the sheriff for his thoughts in an exclusive one-on-one interview.

Imagining the pain of the families who lost a son or daughter in the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas shooting last week was the first thought Harrison had when he learned about the latest school shooting in Florida.

The second?

"Oh my God when is it going to happen here?" he said. "And I feel it's not if, it's when."

We asked Sheriff Harrison what security measures he'd like to see in our schools if resources were unlimited. The main thing he'd like? For Wake County Public School System to have its own police force.

"The school system here is larger than the city of Cary, and we have about 11 police chiefs, and me, with officers in the school," Harrison said.

Wake County is the largest school district in the state and several municipalities including the sheriff's office are charged with protecting it.

Harrison said there are between 60 and 75 school resource officers in Wake schools. His force provides 23 of those, with the upfront cost of bringing on a new officer about $80,000.

Most schools under the sheriff's office have one SRO per every middle school and high school.

"Another thing if the money was unlimited, you know have better door locks - be able to punch a button and let people in, and cameras. Have cameras everywhere that you could," he said, saying they could prove useful for all sort of emergency scenarios.

Watch the entire ABC11 interview with the Sheriff on Facebook Live, here.

While President Donald Trump doubled down Friday on his call to arm teachers - Harrison said he isn't for it.

"We do this every day and we run into things; we have to make split-second decisions. Those teachers are going to do this because they've got a little bit of training. It's too much pressure to put on those teachers," he said.

How about bringing in armed help?

"The idea of bringing in retired police officers, law-enforcement people, and maybe military people, that's not a bad idea," he added, "but where is the money going to come from? There's a lot of training they have to go through every year, so I've got some little fear about it. How is it going to work?"

When it comes to asking "what can we do to make sure another school shooting never happens again" - Harrison said it's going to take team work.

"We've got a job to do, let's do it. Forget about the Republican, Democrat, this or that or the other - let's see what's best for our students and our county, and throughout the state."
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