For whatever reason, whenever the topic of making our schools safer comes up, no one wants to address the obvious. However, Madison County Schools Superintendent Will Hoffman and Sheriff Buddy Harwood get it and are working towards real safety measures in the North Carolina county. Specifically, every school in the district, six total, will have a safe with an AR-15, extra magazines, and breaching tools.
Schools Throughout Madison County North Carolina Get AR-15s for Defense
The move to arm every school throughout the county’s school district came from Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood. Following the botched response at Uvalde, Harwood feels that the tragedy resulted from poor decision-making and training. For this reason, he has promoted the idea of strengthening security throughout the school system.
The plan has the full support of Madison County Schools Superintendent Will Hoffman. It will take effect in all six schools, which include Brush Creek Elementary, Hot Springs Elementary, Mars Hill Elementary, Madison Middle, Madison High School and Madison Early College High.
Starting in the coming school year, all six schools throughout the district will have a safe containing a rifle and other tools. Reports show that only school resource officers currently undergoing training will handle the rifles.
CBS News reports, “Harwood said that along with the rifle, a safe will also be put in each school. Breaching tools and additional magazines with ammo will also be kept in the safes. Harwood’s staff has also met with first responders and other law enforcement and security officials.”
According to Harwood, the breaching tools are to reduce response times if a suspect barricades a door.
A report on DailyCaller states, “Harwood says the breaching tools would be used if someone were to barricade a door during a shooting. ‘We won’t have to wait on the fire department to get there,” he explained. ‘We’ll have those tools to be able to breach that door if needed. I do not want to have to run back out to the car to grab an AR, because that’s time lost. Hopefully, we’ll never need it, but I want my guys to be as prepared as prepared can be.’”
As expected, some feel that this only further endangers children. They believe that the presence of a firearm in the school will lead to dangerous situations and firearm incidents. However, the school system is taking steps to prevent events of this nature.
According to USA Today, “As part of the sheriff’s office’s Safe School Initiative, Harwood told USA TODAY, there are protocols and guidelines in place to prevent anyone from accessing the safe and guns other than school resource officers who have undergone hours of weapons and tactical training.”
Likewise, Harwood told USA Today that the safes are heavy-duty and stored in undisclosed locations, inaccessible to students. In addition, they will be under 24-hour monitoring and have “very limited” access.
“These safes are not easily manipulated and will not be able to be moved,” Harwood said in an email. “Only Madison County Sheriff’s Office deputies will have the password to access the contents.”
Additionally, Harwood and his staff have conducted training throughout the summer along with Mars Hill University’s director of safety and security, other law enforcement officials, and first responders.
There are plans for a live scenario on August 17, conducted by the school system and Sheriff’s Office. The scenario will replicate a high-impact incident requiring an emergency response and will incorporate all teachers.
Beefing Up Security Protocols Across the Board
Superintendent Hoffman has said that the school system is conducting a number of other safety initiatives in 2022-23 as well. As part of the Safe School Initiative, each school will have SRO’s (school resource officers) and a safety liaison. Likewise, all six schools will include school counselors.
In addition, each school will have a panic button system that reports to a monitoring center and the Sheriff’s Office. The school system will also continue a partnership with the Department of Public Safety to conduct safety checks of each school.
There are also plans to work with students and parents to address internet safety.
Citizen Times writes, “In the fall, MCS will coordinate with the FBI in Asheville to present to middle school and high school students and their parents/guardians about internet safety, especially relating to online enticement and ‘sextortion.’”
In a time when some use tragedies like Uvalde to further the gun control agenda, some are taking it seriously. Despite the belief of some, there is no such thing as a “good crisis.” But there are good responses.
This is the way.