Leaders ask the right questions about safety

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Nash-Rocky Mount educators, law enforcement officers and county commissioners are holding important conversations about safety in wake of the December shootings that killed more than 20 students and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The discussions are key to making local schools as safe as possible. As Telegram staff writer Jim Holt reported Sunday, armed school resource officers are stationed at every middle school and high school in the Nash-Rocky Mount system. The school board is spending $200,000 for better security cameras and identification cards.

The question every parent, teacher and leader must ask: Are we safe enough?

Do we need armed resource officers on elementary school campuses? Can the system do more to protect schools against armed intruders? Are school resource officers enough?

In the aftermath of the tragedies at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, we can’t afford not to ask ourselves those questions. Credit Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson, the school board and county commissioners with leading the discussion.

The answers, unfortunately, aren’t easy. Columbine had a school resource officer who was returning from lunch when the shootings on the high school campus began. He traded gunfire with one of the shooters.

Even with school resource officers on the campus of every middle school and high school in the Nash-Rocky Mount system, there are periods of vulnerability. The officers rotate visits to elementary schools every week. That means for short periods of time, they aren’t available at the middle school or high school to which they’re assigned.

We’re glad to see administrators and leaders take these issues seriously. The answers might not come easily – or cheaply. But they can’t be answered at all unless forward-thinking people are leading the discussion. It’s good to see that taking place in Nash-Rocky Mount.