“Money is tight,” Turner says. “We’re going to try and phase it in every year until we get all of our schools covered.” Hardwire donated all the whiteboards at Worchester Prep. In the case of Jordan, the school district agreed to pay for all the associated costs of putting the officers in. Simpsonville implemented their changes at no cost to the community.
Jones states he works hard on public/private partnerships, which is how he is helping to pay for some of the boards which run $299 each. “We had a jump start by Cold Spring Granite Company, who donated 75 boards. I’m finding nothing but interest wherever I go.” Jones says finding the money and crusading to get the boards in every classroom at every school is an honor for him. “I’ve been through a school shooting. I know what it feels like. I know what it does to people. I know what it does to a community. It made me question if I’m doing my job. Something has to be done and Hardwire has given us a viable solution.”
Having officers work out of the schools makes sense in both Simpsonville and Jordan, but both are relatively small towns. Moore’s advice to other agencies who might want to explore the same idea, especially those with larger jurisdictions, is to look at what an officer does and make sure he or she would have enough time to be in the school. He suggests maybe a supervisor doing paperwork could work. Malz agrees and adds, “I do believe that in order for this initiative to have a chance, all egos and territorial control issues need to be set aside. I was very fortunate to be able to work with several individuals in key positions that were able to make the safety of the children in our community their number one priority.”
Every jurisdiction can look at their community needs and know there are real solutions adding layers to their school safety readily available. “If a school buys these and nothing happens for a hundred years, for a hundred years they know they could have used them,” Jones explains. “If something does happen, they don’t have to just sit and watch children be picked off.”
Although Malz offers no guarantee that putting an officer in the school will prevent shootings, he feels doing nothing is unacceptable. Turner sums it up. “The one thing we can’t guard against is crazy,” he says. “What we’re hoping for with Hardwire’s products is that when crazy comes we’ll be more prepared to handle it.” So will Jordan, Simpsonville and all the agencies implementing solutions for school safety.
Michelle Perin has been a freelance writer since 2000, and has worked for the Phoenix (Ariz.) Police Department for almost eight years. In December 2010, she earned her Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Indiana State University.