Gaston County schools to get more police coverage

Gaston County schools to get more police coverage
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GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Gaston County commissioners voted Tuesday to provide school resource officers (SROs) full-time at Gaston County public schools.

The county will utilize officers they already have and extend shifts to cover a full class day. The proposal was to authorize the addition of 16 SROs at schools for enhanced school security and to appropriate additional funds at a pro-rated amount for the remainder of the school year.

The county police provide SROs in high schools and some middle schools and the local police departments provide SROs in elementary schools and middle schools. Instead of working 4 hours, the SROs will work 8 hours.

"This will provide safer and more secure schools for the remainder of this year and next year," Cloninger says.

Any law enforcement officer is able to serve as an SRO and Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger says additional training will not be required. The SROs will have already been through county police training, which Cloninger says is sufficient.

Tracy Philbeck says there may be an opportunity for more state funds. Philbeck says the addition of 16 SROs will ensure every school is covered. "We're gonna utilize what we already have, Philbeck says.

It would cost around $640,000 to approve an entire school year, according to county commissioners.

"I think spending $640,00 to protect your kids is something we should do," Philbeck said. "This is the most efficient way t do it."

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