(Headline USA) When schools in one North Carolina county reopen later this month, new security measures will include stocking AR-15 rifles for school resource officers to use in the event of an active shooter.
Spurred by the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two teachers dead in May, school officials and Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood have placed one of the semiautomatic rifles in each of the county’s six schools. Each of the guns will be locked inside a safe, Harwood said.
The North Carolina school district and sheriff’s office are collaborating to enhance security after the Uvalde shooting revealed systemic failures and “egregiously poor decision-making,” resulting in more than an hour of chaos before the gunman was finally confronted and killed by law enforcement, according to a report written by an investigative committee from the Texas House of Representatives.
“Those officers were in that building for so long, and that suspect was able to infiltrate that building and injure and kill so many kids,” Harwood told the Asheville Citizen Times. “I just want to make sure my deputies are prepared in the event that happens.”
Madison County Schools Superintendent Will Hoffman said school administrators have been meeting regularly with local law enforcement officials, including Harwood, to discuss the updated safety measures.
Harwood said the county’s school resource officers have been training with instructors from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.
Harwood said the safes where the AR-15s will be kept will also hold ammunition and breaching tools for barricaded doors.
“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,” he said.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press