BRIDGETON, N.C. (WNCT) – The Craven County Sheriff’s Office continues their “Adopt A School” program this school year in an effort to keep schools safe from violence.
“No one ever thinks it will happen in their schools but these shootings are happening every day throughout the United States,” said Sheriff Chip Hughes.
Deputies are encouraged to make frequent stops at their adopted school throughout the day. They patrol parking lots, walk hallways and interact with students and staff.
The sheriff’s office, along with police departments in Craven County have assigned school resource officers in many schools however, due to costs, some schools are left without one.
Sheriff Hughes is hoping the program will bridge the gaps.
“This program is a way to have a law enforcement presence at every school in our county at minimal cost to the taxpayers until we can get to that level where we have an SRO at every school,” said Hughes.
“We as staff consider it a blessing,” said Denise Smith, Bridgeton Elementary School Assistant Principal. “We try to make this a very safe inviting place, and I think their presence helps that out a lot.”
Bridgeton Elementary is one of the schools in the county without an assigned SRO. Smith says having deputies stop by each day through this program is comforting.
“They’re here in the morning, sometime in the afternoon, middle of the day it’s just really good,” she said.
Sheriff Hughes said he wants their presence to be unpredictable.
“Just because a marked patrol is not sitting in front of the school does not mean we are not in the school,” he said. “We have to take every step possible and that’s what this program does.”
Last year the department made around 250 to 300 school visits each month through the program. The number of visits depends on the 911 call volume.
Sheriff Hughes is hoping every school in his county will have an assigned SRO in the future.