ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page aims to have a full-time school resource officer at every school in the county, and his office is looking at unused COVID-19 funds to get the job done.

According to a statement from the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, Page is calling for unused 2021 American Rescue Plan funds to go toward placing school resource officers in schools that do not currently have them.

“This effort is to increase the everyday safety of our students, teachers and staff, preferably at every school, in the wake of the latest mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas,” the sheriff’s office said.

Monday night, Page spoke to the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners asking for their support in his mission. Rockingham County Schools Safety Director Stephanie Ellis echoed the sentiment.  

Page has also contacted Sen. Thom Tillis, Rep. Ted Budd, Rep. Patrick McHenry and others seeking support.

American Rescue Plan funds

Those funds were originally designated for expenditures in four categories: the public health emergency and its negative economic impacts, hiring and paying state workers performing essential work, improving water/sewer/broadband infrastructure and providing government services impacted by pandemic-related revenue loss.

In May, President Joe Biden said that $10 billion from the American Rescue Plan should be used by cities and counties to improve public safety. While he did not directly address school resource officers, he did recommend hiring more officers in general.

"Taking action today is going to save lives tomorrow. So use the money, hire the police officers, build up your emergency response systems," the president said.

According to the U.S. Treasury, Rockingham County received $17,677,626 in Fiscal Recovery Funds.

Page on Uvalde school shooting

After the shooting, Page shared what his deputies might have done differently in that situation. 

Page said ever since Columbine, there is a very specific protocol that officers follow in active shooter situations. While he says he's waiting for the investigation to be completed before jumping to conclusions about what happened in Texas, he says his deputies are more than prepared for that kind of situation.

"If we get a call about an active shooter in a school, we breach the door. We either go through the door, we go through the windows, you got to drive a car to knock the door in, you go in. You charge to the threat and you stop the threat, if it's an active shooter, you do what you have to do to stop that shooter." Page said. 

Every high school, middle school and some elementary schools in Rockingham county have trained and armed SROs who are ready to act at a moment's notice. 

"Every minute that we don't respond, that could be a life." Page said.