In light of this week’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, law enforcement agencies across North Carolina and the nation are increasing patrols on and around school campuses. In addition to local efforts by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and Goldsboro Police Department, WCPS schools are also seeing an increased presence from other agencies. On Wednesday, May 25, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety issued a memo directing the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, State Capitol Police, Alcohol Law Enforcement Division, Community Corrections, and Special Operations and Intelligence Unit to conduct regular security checks at local schools and community colleges throughout the end of the school year.
“We appreciate all of the support from all of our law enforcement partners for their ongoing efforts to promote student safety in these closing days of school,” states Dr. David Lewis, WCPS superintendent. “While we hope our schools are never faced with a school shooting, having law enforcement personnel on our campuses who are trained to respond to active shooters will be critical in helping deter or prevent a threat from being carried out.”
School district leaders hope the added law enforcement will also help alleviate concerns associated with rumored threats. Over the course of the school year, and even as recently as this week, schools in Wayne County and across North Carolina have experienced the fear and unnecessary concerns that come with rumored threats of school shootings. Locally, some purported threats have been generated by offhand comments made by students and others that appeared on social media which were purposely crafted to elicit a response from a school and lead to potential shares amongst students.
“While rumors of school shootings have unfortunately become more common-place, our school district and partnering law enforcement agencies take any threats against students and staff very seriously,” adds Dr. Lewis. “In this day and age, it is difficult to understand why any student or community member would take this type of tragedy so lightly – and risk disciplinary actions and/or serious criminal charges – by threatening to ‘shoot up a school’ or creating fake messaging that promotes rumors of a school shooting.”
Law enforcement leaders hope their presence can support school efforts to promote a safe learning environment.
“In light of recent events, we have increased patrols on campuses across Wayne County,” states Wayne County Sheriff Larry Pierce. “Every threat reported to our office is investigated quickly and thoroughly with detectives, school resource officers, and Wayne County Public School System staff. We utilize every resource available to assist with these threats and remind students and parents that making threats against a school comes with consequences.”
Similar actions are also being taken by the Goldsboro Police Department in its efforts to support safety and security at schools located within the city limits.
“We have, and will continue to investigate ALL threats and will utilize all of our law enforcement partners during these investigations,” states Chief Mike West. “For the next few days, you will see an increased presence of uniformed officers in and around our local schools. The safety of the students and staff is a priority for us.”