Geneva County Schools adding armed security to schools in the fall

Geneva County Schools adding armed security to schools in the fall
Come fall 2018, Gevena County Schools will add armed security. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

. - If you have a child in the Geneva County School System, expect to see security on campus in the fall. The school system announced they will have armed security personnel on school campuses.

The superintendent says it's a security measure they've been working on since the Florida school shooting in February. It became more pressing in light of the recent school shooting in Texas.

"It's gotten to a point that it's hard not to do anything in terms of securing our schools," said Becky Birdsong.

The personnel in place will be different from school resource officers – which the system currently does not have. This personnel will be solely for security purposes with specialized training.

"Someone who is trained in active shooter situations and who is comfortable with the handgun and can do what is necessary to protect our students and faculty," said Birdsong.

The system is working with local mayors and law enforcement in Slocomb, Hartford, and Samson – where county schools are located – to provide the service. Slocomb Police Chief Don White agrees, adding the security is a necessary next step.

"It's never enough when it comes to safety. You do what you can do every day to ensure, but this is the first step and most important step, getting people in here," White explained.

The school system has nine schools. Its middle and high schools are joint campuses and the elementary schools are located on separate campuses.

The system says they will have at least one armed officer on the three joint campuses and are still working to figure out funding to get an officer on the elementary school campuses.

"We're just going to budget for it. We're going to put some other things on the back burner and make this happen," said Birdsong. The system is looking at grant options and hoping for federal or state funding.

Superintendent Birdsong says she hopes this will help make her schools safer and put administration, parents, and students' minds at ease.

"I talk to students who say, 'It scares me being at school because we feel like we're targets,'" Birdsong admitted.

Julia Abernathy, an 8th grader, is one of those students. She says she doesn't believe Geneva County Schools could be immune to tragedy.

"Sometimes I feel safe, but after some shootings, I'll go outside for P.E. and kind of feel nervous and worried that somebody could maybe do something," the student said.

But Abernathy says knowing she'll start school next year with armed officers makes her feel safer, " because someone would be there to protect me if something were to happen."

The superintendent says she'll meet with mayors in the cities where schools are located and law enforcement over the next few weeks to continue to discuss funding.

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