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Local law enforcement, school officials meet for roundtable discussion

posted Feb 23, 2018, 3:26 PM by Cheryl Shuffler   [ updated Feb 23, 2018, 3:36 PM ]

School safety the main topic of conversation


Morganton, NC – Friday, Feb. 23, 2018


In the aftermath of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Florida and the subsequent concerns regarding the safety of Burke County Public Schools, school officials invited local law enforcement officials to Central Office on Friday afternoon for a roundtable discussion on school safety.


Burke County Board of Education Chair Randy Burns and Assistant Board Chair Buddy Armour joined BCPS Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam, Assistant Superintendent Dr. David Fonseca and Director of Student Services Mike Swan in meeting with District Attorney David Learner, Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant, Sheriff’s Office Maj. Banks Hinceman, Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jeff Robinson, Lead School Resource Officer Lt. Andrew Clemens, Glen Alpine Police Chief Rodney Cox, Valdese Police Chief Jack Moss, Morganton Department of Public Safety Maj. Tony Lowdermilk and Richard Epley and John Daye with Delta Police Company, which provides SROs and gate guards at our schools.


Discussions during the 45 minute meeting centered around the threats made from Burke County Public Schools students this week, which led to their arrests; social media posts, including the one that led to concerns at Freedom High School on Friday; and brainstorming opportunities for training and preparedness going forward.


Putnam and Burns thanked the law enforcement community for its work this week and for continuing to work with the school system.


“Today, we had a conversation to make sure we are all on the same page and to show our joint effort,” Putnam said. “Law enforcement and the schools work together not just today, but on a daily basis. I appreciate District Attorney Leaner and the officers for making believers out of folks in how they responded to our students making threats this week. They were quick to make arrests and to send a message that we will not tolerate threats.”


Burns said, “I can’t tell you the level of gratitude I feel for our law enforcement community and the job they do every day and especially this week. I also appreciate our students and staff for coming forward with tips this week. The people of our school system are our best tools to help us shine a light on evil. We can make a difference if we all work together. We are serious about addressing this issue, and we want parents, students and staff to have peace and comfort in knowing that.”


Whisenant said, “We have an excellent working relationship with the schools, and that was reiterated this week. I want the public to understand how collaboratively we work together as law enforcement. When I asked the chiefs in their own jurisdictions to send as many officers as they could to their community schools on Friday, every chief responded, ‘Yes.’ We are doing things such as this behind the scenes all the time that the public may not always know about.”


Putnam welcomed all law enforcement officers to drop by to visit any of our schools.


Putnam made another plea for folks to be mindful of what they post on social media.  Likewise, it is important for parents to monitor what their children post.


Putnam and Burns said they hope the show of joint force with law enforcement and the school system will help bring a sense of calm to our community over the weekend. 

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