Madison County, NC – The Madison County sheriff has announced plans to equip the county’s school resource officers with AR-15s on campuses for the coming school year.
Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood released a video statement last month that explained the reasoning behind his controversial decision, WHNS reported.
Sheriff Harwood said that sometimes a deputy armed with only a handgun is not enough firepower to stop an active shooter.
The sheriff said in the video that he had made the decision to arm every school resource officer in Madison County with AR-15 semiautomatic rifle with optics and accessories.
He said he also planned to provide deputies with additional training to improve school security, WHNS reported.
Sheriff Harwood said the school resource officers would do extra tactical training so they would be ready to use the high-powered weapons in the schools if they had to.
He said the rifles would be stored in a gun safe in a secret location at every school, WHNS reported.
The sheriff said his department was working closely with Madison County School Superintendent Dr. Weil Hoffman and the Board of Education to implement the new policy.
“The Board of Education, the County Commission and the Madison County Sheriff have worked together to fund School Resource Officers in each of our schools,” Hoffman said in a statement released on Aug. 8. “This has always been our highest safety priority.”
“We have also worked to fund digital camera systems at each school, additional counseling, and social worker support at each school and site-based therapy to create safe school environments at each of our schools,” the superintendent continued. “We have now seen senseless school shootings over and over again across our nation. As superintendent of schools my highest priority is the safety and welfare of our students and staff.”
“I believe in our School Resource Officers; they build strong relationships with students, and they are highly trained in the use of firearms and de-escalation strategies. They have my trust; the trust of our Board of Education and they have earned the public’s trust,” the statement read.
“They need to be able to take decisive action that includes all appropriate steps to neutralize an assailant, should a critical incident occur,” Hoffman added.