Board Seeks Changes for School Police
The Moore County Schools Special Police could be converted into a law-enforcement department to provide it with greater jurisdiction over the county's schools.
The Moore County Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution Monday stating its intention to form an independent police agency, known as the Moore County Schools Campus Police Department.
The resolution has been endorsed by the Moore County Sheriff's Office, all of the county's municipal police departments and District Attorney Maureen Krueger.
The N.C. General Assembly must enact legislation for the change to occur.
Deputy Superintendent Larry Upchurch said the school system has tried for the past three or four years to garner support from the legislature to allow it to move from a "special police" category under the the state attorney general's office to the "campus police" category.
"The reason for that is, No. 1, it would give our [school resource officers] complete authorization of dealing with issues at our campuses and on the roads that lead into our campuses," he said. "Currently, our officers, under the special police category, cannot patrol the roads."
Putting them in a position to direct traffic is outside the scope of what a special police department can do, Upchurch added. In order to have traffic control, the school system must enter into an agreement with the Sheriff's Office to allow the school resource officers (SROs) to work for it for a specified amount of time each morning and each afternoon.
"The sheriff has been very helpful in order to get this done," Upchurch said, "but I have to pay those officers outside the scope of their employment with Moore County Schools in order for them to have the authorization to be in the road directing traffic.
"I would like to be able to put officers in a position to manage our traffic issues, and to manage anything that might occur on our campuses without having to engage the authorization of another agency in order for that to happen."
There are some state roads that run through the campuses, and currently, the SROs have no jurisdiction or authority on those roads.
Upchurch pointed out that most of the agencies under the "special police" designation are for-profit entities that work in malls and at special events.
"I believe our officers deserve better than to be under that classification in the attorney general's office," he said.
Moore County is following the lead of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system, which was given authorization by the legislature to maintain a campus police department in June. It is the first district to be successful in doing so.
The school system's police officers would continue to be called SROs. Upchurch expects the move to result in an overall cost savings for the school system.
In other business, the board learned that construction of Crain's Creek Middle School is near completion. Upchurch said it should be finished by the end of January -- on schedule and under budget.
The school system also announced that Lisa Scott will be the new principal of Westmoore Elementary. She has been an assistant principal serving both Westmoore and Highfalls Elementary schools since 2007.
She will assume her new position Jan. 1, replacing Bruce Williams, who is retiring at the end of the semester.
Contact Pilot Staff Writer John Krahnert III at (910) 693-2473 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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