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Issue 1

September 27th, 2019

North Carolina schools face a surge of violence

FRI. | 09-24-21 | NEWS

SAT. | 10-10-20 | NEWS

     North Carolina Public Schools have seen a surge in violence since returning to campus this fall. Within the first two weeks of the school year, there were two school shootings in the state, one in Wilmington at New Hanover High School and one in Winston-Salem at Mount Tabor High School. 

     The shooting at New Hanover High School occurred around noon on Monday, Aug. 30th during a class period change. At this time, a fight broke out in the catwalk and minutes later, a student pulled out a gun and began shooting. One student was shot during the incident but did not suffer life-threatening injuries. 

     The shooting at Mount Tabor High School occurred on Wednesday, Sep. 1st, only 2 days following the New Hanover shooting. One student was shot and killed. 

     These shootings have left many students uneasy about their return to full capacity in-person learning. 

     “I’ve never really felt safe at that school, but I really don’t feel safe now,” Helen Lewis, a senior at New Hanover High School said. 

     Lewis was not on campus during the shooting, but says that almost all of her friends were there at the time of the incident. 

     “One of my best friends was trampled during the shooting and had cuts and bruises all down his body because he felt like he had to stay on the ground to stay out of the way,” Lewis said. 

     Although events like these may leave students around the state feeling uncertain about their safety on their school’s campus, Rose School Resource Officer (SRO), Bruce Groccia, reassures students that their security is of the utmost


Photo by Eleanor Blount

importance to staff, administration and SROs. 

     “Our primary responsibility [as SROs] is to go to the threat, we don't stop, we don't do anything else, we go to the threat,” Groccia says.

     North Carolina SROs are equipped to handle active threat situations on school campuses.

     “We do a lot of training outside of school that most people don't know about,” says Groccia.

     The state of North Carolina requires SROs to spend 20 hours a week for 12 consecutive weeks on a school campus, complete 40 hours of certification courses and an additional “refresher” training every year. 

     Many SROs also have additional experience in law enforcement. 

     Prior to his job as an SRO, Ofc. Groccia worked for the Special Investigations Unit, Drug Task Force, Emergency Response Team and was a Juvenile Detective and K-9 handler. 

     “If you're trained right and you know what you're doing, it's second nature,” says Groccia. 

     The presence of SROs in public schools is important in maintaining campus security, but there are further steps that can be taken to maintain the safety of students and staff at school.

     “One step that I think the schools could take would be to provide metal detectors and more officers at the school,” Lewis says. 

     Increasing the presence of SROs and/or implementing the use of metal detectors in public schools may put some at ease, but it isn’t likely to solve the issue of school violence all together. 

     “We’ve had four incidents in North Carolina in the past few weeks,” said Groccia. “It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.”

     With active threat situations happening frequently in schools around the state and country, students, as well as SROs, have a growing role in maintaining the security of their school. 

     “Obviously we want all schools to be safe, but putting more officers or metal detectors is not going to do it. We just need people to be more mindful and more vigilant of what’s going on.”

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