Reporter/Lynchburg Bureau Chief
6:18 PM EST, March 5, 2013
No matter where students go at Staunton River High School, school resource officer Gary DeSilvey is keeping a close eye on them.
"We just patrol the campus and make sure that everyone who is on campus is allowed to be here," said DeSilvey.
He gets to know students and tries to build a positive relationship with them.
"If they've got issues they come to us," DeSilvey said. "I've had several students come to me and if they're having a rough day they come and talk to us for a while."
School leaders say that contact helps eliminate threats. 10 years ago a resource officer at Stauton River discovered that a student was planning to hurt his classmates and himself.
"Not only was he suicidal, he was homicidal," said Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown, who believes having a resource officer in the school stopped a would-be killer.
"You're always a cat's whisker away from something like this happening and you can't take anything lightly," Brown said.
Resource officers have been in Bedford County's high schools since 1996. They were added to middle schools a few years later.
Incidents like the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last year have now led the sheriff to think about moving his officers into elementary schools.
He believes the presence of armed officers will be a strong deterrent.
"When the bad guy sees a police officer, normally he is going to find someplace else to do his dirty work," said Brown.
The sheriff is asking the county board of supervisors for $800,000. That would pay for 15 new resource officers and their patrol cars.
Brown believes the steep price will offer a worthwhile benefit.
"Will it solve the problem? No," said Brown. "We can't offer a 100% assurance rate that nothing will happen, but it will make the odds better for us."
Supervisors will have to fund the additional resource officers in their annual budget.
Some on the board are concerned there won't be enough money. As an alternative, at least one supervisor has suggested having current employees in each school get a concealed carry permit and bring their own weapon to school.
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