Henry County Schools look to add 26 additional school resource officers

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 5:48 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2022 at 6:27 PM EDT
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MCDONOUGH, Ga. (CBS46) - Henry County Public Schools is making upgrades to its security ahead of the new school year. They’re looking to double the amount of school resource officers on campus, but their new plan won’t be in place when school starts next week.

“We should have at least 17, which will give us enough for every high school and some floaters,” said J.D. Hardin of Henry County Public Schools.

The district’s goal is to more than double its current number, from 17 to 43. The district recently ended its partnership with the sheriff’s office and is currently working with the Henry County Police Department to provide the district with school resource officers.

“I take my son to school and pick him up every day,” said one parent whose son goes to one of the district’s elementary schools. “I think resource officers are needed more than ever now.”

Right now, the police department doesn’t have enough staff to cover all the district’s nearly 50 schools. Instead, they plan to phase in new SROs as they ramp up their hiring and training process. An additional 26 officers will be stationed on campus by the end of the school semester in December, meeting a national safety standard of one officer per 1,000 students.

“Anybody who’s watching television, anybody who’s close and connected to their community, they can’t not being concerned,” said Hardin.

The district of nearly 43,000 students had long wanted to add more officers on campus. Recent school shootings like the one this past May in Uvalde, Texas where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers helped to expedite their timeline.

Along with more SROs, the district is also hiring new campus safety hall monitors, something students will notice right away.

“Which gives us another set of eyes being dedicated to just being out in the school and being able to see any problems that may arise and relay those quickly to those who need to know,” said Hardin.

Students, staff, and visitors will also notice new security as they enter schools. Several buildings are being outfitted with a new buzz-in door system, an upgrade from the current two-door entry with a locked lobby.

The school community can also call a new tip line if they see something of concern. People can call or text 770-220-7009. You can even send pictures or videos via text.