Safer Schools: To address ‘tremendous spike’ in lockdowns, Wake County SROs forms new coalition
WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) — The State’s largest school district recognizes that school threats are increasing at an alarming rate and there’s a need for more coordinated effort among law enforcement.
A new school resources officer coalition was established in Wake County in an effort to keep kids safe and the community informed
The Wake County School District held its annual School Resource Officers (SRO) summit a few weeks ago and one of the main focuses was threat assessments.
There’s frustration over the frequency of lockdowns last school year.
“Since COVID, (there’s been) a tremendous spike – double/triple in numbers compared to the lockdowns we had prior to 2020,” said Captain Brian Bowers from the Wake County Sheriff’s Office SRO Division.
Wake’s Interim Superintendent Dr. Randy Bridges says, unfortunately, it’s a nationwide problem.
“If it was just isolated to Wake County Public Schools, I probably would be concerned, but it’s not,” said Bridges.
The newly formed Coalition for Safer Schools is banding together law enforcement and school administrators. They’ll try to deter kids from making bogus claims.
“The only way to do that is to bring in all of our assets. All of our supervisors throughout the county and to team up with Wake County Public Schools,” said Coalition for Safer Schools Wake Co-Chair Tom Brienzi. “Most children don’t realize that these are crimes and the magnitude of what they’re doing.”
There have been some real scares.
A juvenile was arrested this past February at Millbrook Highs School after bringing a powerful weapon on campus.
“There’s a problem that a kid got into a basketball event with an AR-15. How do you do that?” parent John Rainey said after the incident.
There is now a new bag policy for Millbrook athletic events. Students and attendees are banned from bringing things like backpacks, belt or duffle bags to sporting events.
Other school districts have taken steps to try and curtail incidents.
Granville County began rotating metal detectors last spring because of the rising number of threats and guns found on campus.
ABC11 asked Wake if the district would consider taking the same measures.
“We’re not prepared to talk about those right now,” said WCPSS Security Senior Director Kendrick Scott.
Law enforcement says one of their biggest hurdles is social media.
Leaders are pleading with parents to monitor accounts and also warning that juvenile petitions can be taken out against their children.
“We’ve taken out a number of petitions, in teen court or deferrals programs, for threats towards the schools,” said Bowers. “They do stuff and they don’t realize the consequences, the amount of resources, the amount of money is spent on those lockdowns and the fear that it instills in the parents and the community.”
We don’t have an exact number of how many code red lockdowns there were last year in Wake. ABC11 requested that information. A district spokesperson says leaders are not tracking the frequency of these incidents.
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