BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Nearly a year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, we're taking a closer look at school security in our area.
Brunswick County Sheriff, John Ingram said the Newtown, CT shooting last year that left 26 people dead struck a nerve with county officials.
Immediately following the event, officials decided to insert school resource officers at every school in the county. But Ingram says it's not the quantity of officers, but the quality that makes a difference.
He says it takes a special deputy to become a Student Resource Officer, especially one who works in an elementary school.
Specific to Brunswick County, security threats at elementary schools are seen as external, meaning someone else coming in from outside. However, in middle or high schools, the potential threat is more internal.
Ingram says the job of an elementary S.R.O. is not just to guard the school, but to build and promote positive relationships with the kids.
"It's extremely important, especially in the elementary schools because that's our first opportunity to interact with many of the children and form those relationships with law enforcement that can last a lifetime," said Ingram.
Officials say there is a big difference between working the streets and working the schools. Deputy Bradley Huggins is the S.R.O. at Belville Elementary School. As we found out, being an S.R.O. is not your typical police work.
"Not all deputies can do this job. It's more than a job," said Huggins. "You have to learn to appreciate it and love it."
Huggins spends his day handing out high fives and interacting with the children at his school. He considers himself more than just a security guard.
"Building positive relationships with law enforcement is what it's all about," said Huggins. "It is definitely a different hat but enjoyable and rewarding."
Huggins says he hopes to return to Belville Elementary School next year. Sheriff Ingrams supports the consistency of having the same deputy back in the county schools year after year.
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