COLUMBIA, SC — Richland County is receiving $500,000 to to hire four deputies to work in public schools as resource officers.
The figure is part of more than $2.26 million in grants for S.C. school districts to hire 20 officers in Richland County, Charleston, Spartanburg County and Hardeville.
Grants to hire school resource officers totaling more than $45 million nationally were made in response to recent school tragedies, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a news release on Friday. In a time of tight budgets, “our top priority must always be the safety and well-being of our children,” Holder said.
Overall, according to a news release from Bill Nettles, the U.S. Attorney for South Carolina, the Justice Department is sending awards to 263 cities and counties, aimed at creating 937 law enforcement positions. More than $125 million will be awarded nationally, including nearly $45 million to pay for 356 new school resource officer positions.
The $2,256,236 in grants were awarded as follows:
• $500,000 to Richland County to hire four officers
• $500,000 to the Charleston police department to hire four officers
• $1,131,236 to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Department and Spartanburg Department of Public Safety to hire 11 officers,
• and $125,000 to the city of Hardeville to hire one officer.
Charleston schools also will be getting a grant of $42,097 for its Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative.
Grants were awarded according to fiscal need, local crime rates and policing plans, with special emphasis this year on agencies specifically seeking to beef up school safety programs.
Earlier in the year, Richland School District 1 announced plans to assign resource officers at each of its elementary schools at a cost of an estimated $1.6 million. The County Council approved $800,000 to help pay for the project, leaving the other half the responsibility of the district.
Already, Richland 1 has 33 school resource officers assigned to high schools, middle schools and elementary schools, district spokeswoman Karen York said. She had not seen the release from the Department of Justice about the new grants and did not know how the money might affect Richland 1’s resource officer staffing.
Richland School District 2 has roving officers who move among elementary schools and other schools nearby. The district has 18 school resource officers and 30 schools.