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Johnston County applies for grant for 12 more school resource officers

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) -- In the wake of the school shooting in South Florida, schools across the country are once again putting the focus on security.

"It puts us all on edge," said Crystal Roberts, spokeswoman for Johnston County Public Schools. "It makes people feel vulnerable and what we want our parents and stakeholders throughout the community to know is that we are consistently and constantly working on our crisis planning."

Thursday night the Johnston County superintendent sent out a message to parents after the Florida shooting. The superintendent also announced that the district just applied for a grant to hire 12 more school resource officers.

School officials say they currently have eight SROs stationed at each of the high schools, but this grant would help them expand coverage to middle and elementary schools.

"Johnston County Public Schools takes school safety for our students very seriously every day of the year," said Dr. Cherry Johnson, Director of Research and Grant Development for Johnston County Public Schools. "So, this is absolutely not a reaction. We want to be proactive."

The SROs are with the Johnston County Sheriff's Office, but are also specially trained to work in the school district.

Johnson says the grant amount is $28,000 per officer and the school district would have to match that with a least $14,000 per officer. Johnson says the money would come from local funds.

"Students will learn to trust law enforcement officers at an earlier age and they will report activities that need to be reported and they will also build these relationships and feel better about themselves and the community so that they are less likely to become problems," Johnson said.

Johnson says they should know by May if they are getting the additional SROs. If they receive the grant, the new SROs will be on the job for the 2018-2019 school year.

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