DeKalb schools to boost safety with more school resource officers

The DeKalb County School District is hiring more school resource officers and campus supervisors for its middle and high schools. (Elijah Nouvelage for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2019)

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The DeKalb County School District is hiring more school resource officers and campus supervisors for its middle and high schools. (Elijah Nouvelage for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2019)

The DeKalb County School District is planning to hire 22 new school resource officers and is considering adding a weapons detection system, district officials said Wednesday.

The DeKalb County Board of Education and the Board of Commissioners held a joint virtual meeting Wednesday to discuss school safety — a month after 19 elementary students and two teachers were killed in a shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

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Now DeKalb is planning to add 22 school resource officers, which are sworn law enforcement officers, to its current staff of 78. It’s also adding 30 campus supervisors, or unarmed security, to its existing staff of 112. Both resource officers and campus supervisors staff middle and high schools.

But the additional staffing will help protect elementary schools, too, said DeKalb County School District Chief of Police Bradley Gober. The additional officers at the middle and high schools will be able to make more frequent check-ins at elementary schools, increasing the presence of law enforcement on those campuses.

“The drop-in ratio and the directed patrol coverage at our elementary schools will more than triple, actually, once we do that,” Gober said.

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Gober requested the additional officers back in February. The hiring process won’t begin until after the school board approves next year’s budget, which must happen by June 30.

DeKalb is the state’s third-largest district, with nearly 94,000 students.

Districts across metro Atlanta have renewed discussions around security measures in the wake of the Uvalde shooting. Cobb schools plans to implement a new crisis alert system in August. Clayton is considering metal detectors for schools. Fulton is reconvening a school safety committee.

In addition to more staffing, the DeKalb County School District is also planning to add another bomb-sniffing dog, bringing its number of K-9 units to four. It’s considering adding a weapons detection system to schools. And it’s adding security vestibules, which put front office staff behind shatterproof glass, in more schools.

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The district is not considering arming teachers at this time, said interim Superintendent Vasanne Tinsley.

“At this point, no, we’re not having that discussion,” Tinsley said. “What we want to do is make sure we’re shoring up what we have on our end so we can provide resources to our buildings, our students and our staff.”