2018-03-07 / Front Page

Police officer on duty at every county school

— By SAM ADAMS

The Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department and city police departments have banded together to place officers in every school in the county beginning this week.

The Letcher County Board of Education made the announcement Thursday after having to close schools repeatedly because of threats and social media rumors in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

“We’ve tried to work with local law enforcement, cities and county to increase the law enforcement presence in our schools,” Letcher Schools Superintendent Tony Ser- gent said. “It really came together faster than we expected it to. We didn’t know if we could find that many officers that quickly.”

School Resource Officer Lt. Bert Slone said every county school will have an officer on duty for protection.

“There’ll be some from Whitesburg, some from Neon, and some from the sheriff’s department,” Slone said. “They’re going to pull them from all the departments.”

Slone is a deputy sheriff, however the department doesn’t have enough deputies to cover all of the schools, Sheriff Danny Webb said.

Webb said he gave his deputies permission to take on the extra duty, but they will be paid through the school district. He said he did not know what other departments are doing.

“We put it out there that they would be allowed to do it, but they were going to have to commit to do it every day,” Webb said.

The county has eight schools, including three elementary schools, three middle schools, one combined kindergarten through eighth grade school, and one high school.

Sergent said the district is still buying additional security items for the schools, but what needs to be done varies from school to school.

“Each school’s unique, so we’re going to have to come up with different solutions for each one,” he said.

Sergent was careful not to criticize other districts’ approaches, but said Letcher County is not considering arming teachers, in part because he does not believe it would be legal. The district is considering a range of other approaches to improve security that Sergent said he did not want to discuss publicly.

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