School safety specialists to be deployed across NC to help districts shore up security protocols

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Thursday, June 22, 2023
School safety specialists to be deployed across NC
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The Task Force for Safer Schools heard an action plan to keep students safe and the State Bureau of Investigation's findings into school threats.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A series of school threats and lockdowns have left many parents on edge and demanding action to make schools safer for all students.

During a meeting of the North Carolina Task Force for Safer Schools, the Department of Public Safety deputy secretary said too many guns are getting in the hands of kids and guns are now the leading killers of children overtaking car accidents in 2021.

Data shows last year, 21% of car thefts were for the sole purpose of stealing a firearm and that is also coming at a time officials say suicide and suicidal ideation are up among students.

In response, North Carolina Department of Public Safety is launching a campaign with the hope of curtailing kids from getting a hold of and using weapons.

North Carolina Center for Safer Schools is also sharing that new for this upcoming school year there will be school safety specialists deployed across the state.

Four people have already been hired and four more are expected to come onboard. All eight are expected to play a vital role in safety plans across the state.

"Whether (the schools) need a comprehensive safety plan updated, whether they need training and active shooter drills -- whatever -- they will be there to be of assistance," Executive Director of NC Center for Safer Schools Karen Fairley said.

The center is looing for a $35 million boost from NC General Assembly to tackle other safety issues. That money will be used to help with crisis services and safety equipment.

Officials said there were more than 1,100 school threats in North Carolina in 2022.

"(Threatening schools) was raised from a misdemeanor crime to a felony crime, so we have seen that kids are held accountable," NC Public Safety Deputy Secretary William Lassiter said.

Still, state leaders are working with legal experts and law enforcement officials to find harsher deterrents.

"It's so important because it terrorizes a school. It makes young people at the school, on the school campus, feel unsafe. It makes parents feel unsafe. It makes the staff feel unsafe and you cant get educated if you're feeling unsafe sitting on a school campus," Lassiter said. He argued harsh deterrents do work because only 7 percent of people charged with making a false threat ever did it again.

Wake County Public Schools has already taken steps to make classrooms safer. WCPSS will have a new visitor check-in system at all schools by July 1. The school district used grant money to purchase the new system after a consulting company identified the lack of a centralized and streamline visitor policy as a safety weakness of the district.