Rockingham County Commissioners opt to pass on additional SROs to explore options

WENTWORTH, N.C. -- The Rockingham County Board of Commissioners meeting room inside of the Governmental Center was packed Monday night as mostly people from the community came out to convince commissioners to include four additional school resource officers in the upcoming budget.

"Tonight, this appeal is not about me. It's about our children and their safety," Sheriff Sam Page said.

Page, during a news conference prior to the meeting, explained that he recommended adding more SROs, but that it was excluded out of the budget during last week's budget session.

"The resource officers of Rockingham County go beyond expectations because they love what they do and we need more," said a McMichael High School student who spoke in front of commissioners Monday night.

Page says right now, the sheriff's office has five full-time SROs assigned to cover Rockingham County Middle and High schools, McMichael High School, seven elementary schools and one charter school.

"I have needed and do need additional deputies out in the field, but I put that aside and made the request this year for the school resource officers," he said.

Page explained during the news conference that in the first year, the additional officers would cost nearly $350,000. However, the commissioners ultimately decided not to include it in the upcoming budget.

They passed the budget unanimously Monday night.

The commissioners explained that they want to look into other funding options for it instead of it coming out of the county's budget fully.

Suggestions included finding grant money and possibly hiring a private security company.

"My personal belief that, as a county commissioner, that it's my responsibility to be a steward of that tax dollar and getting to that end game," Commissioner Reece Prytle said.

"We take this very seriously. I don't think you should put the safety of our kids last and I'm not. All I'm saying is you put me in this position to be accountable of your tax paying money and I want to do that," Commissioner T. Craig Travis said.

Travis says that the board has been working with the schools and law enforcement since February to look into school safety. Page also mentioning during the end of the meeting that he will now start looking into grants.