The board of education will have to fund their own security if Horry County Council members decide to pull resource officers from middle and high schools in order to put at least 20 police officers back on the street to fight crime.
The county council is holding their budget retreat here this week and is expected today to pass the first reading of the 2018 fiscal year funding that begins in July.
The county already pays about $200,000 per officer in training and equipment, and the school district has previously provided funding only for half of an officer’s salary.
There are 17 school resource officers in Horry County, and the school district is asking the county to add three more for new middle schools under construction.
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Chief Joseph Hill told The Sun News Wednesday that he opposed putting additional officers in the middle schools, where officers aren’t likely to be fighting crime and making arrests.
“SROs are not enforcers in schools, we are there for criminal behavior, not as a disciplinarian,” Hill told the council on Thursday.
Councilmen also questioned the spending, and were advised by the county attorney that property taxes collected for the county general fund cannot be spent on school operations.
In addition to costs, the resource officers are also a drain on police manpower, county officials said.
If a school resource officer quits, then the county has to pull another officer off the street to fill the position because of the contract with the school board, councilmen said.
That contract expires in June, just before the new budget takes effect.
Currently, the county is paying $1.5 million for the school resources officers. The cost of hiring three new officers for middle schools would cost more than $463,000, of which $46,000 would come from the county if only 10 percent of costs were paid.
Several councilmen suggested that the county school board consider hiring retired law enforcement officers to create their own force of resource officers. Meanwhile, county police would still respond to crimes reported by the schools.