Prince William County may become the first district in Virginia to hire retired police officers as armed guards in its public schools.
In light of recent deadly school shootings, county supervisors and the school board discussed a possible pilot program on Tuesday that would begin with five armed security guards and a supervisor, the Prince William Times reported. The guards would rotate between schools.
The school system says the guards would be an added layer of protection and would work with existing school-resource officers, or SROs.
"We think it would be a great deterrent," said Phil Kavits, associate superintendent for Prince William County Public Schools.
Hiring retired officers is more cost effective than hiring additional SROs, who are full-time police officers and cost twice as much as retired officers.
"What you're looking at when you're dealing with a retired police officer is somebody who is dedicated to public safety," Kavits said.
A state law that took effect last July allows Virginia public school systems to hire retired law-enforcement officers as armed security guards, Prince William Times reported. The officers must have retired within the past 10 years, left their departments in good standing and have completed specialized training.
Some parents and students News4 interviewed said they were open to the idea of hiring armed guards.
"I think it's smart to have somebody that can protect students in school...if we can't protect ourselves," said Kat Zepeda, a student at Colgan High School.
"Not a bad idea. They've been trained and they're used to carrying weapons and they're used to using weapons," one man said.