Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Georgetown County Magistrate Alan Walters - head of the traffic court division since 2002 - has accepted a position with the Georgetown County School District that will oversee school and school event safety.
On Tuesday night, the County School Board approved the recommendation made by Superintendent Dr. Randy Dozier to hire Walters for the position of Director of Safety and Risk Management.
He replaces Kelly Kelley who resigned late last year.
Walters served in law enforcement from 1985 - 2002. First he was at the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office then with the Georgetown Police Department. He also worked at the Andrews Police Department.
It is that law enforcement experience, Walters said, that will help him in his new job.
Walters said he decided to try for the position after seeing all the tragedies at schools around the country and in the local area.
He said the mass shooting at Sandy Hook and, closer to home, the 2009 shooting of a student by an officer at Carolina Forest High School and last year's multiple bomb threats at schools across Horry County caused him to choose the career change.
“On top of that, I have two boys in school. One in the 11th grade and one in the 8th grade,” the North Litchfield resident said. “I went through four interviews. It was a long and exhaustive process.”
After the Sandy Hook incident, Dozier placed off-duty county deputies in all of the schools in the county. Prior to that, elementary schools did not have resource officers. Part of Walters' job will be to keep track of all the officers in the schools.
He will also be in charge of coordinating safety for all activities - such as sporting events - that take place on school property after school hours.
Dozier said those will be just one of Walters' numerous duties.
“Safety and security of our kids must be of utmost importance,” Dozier said.
A number of new safety initiatives will be put in place throughout the district, including more up-to-date sign-in systems at schools and barriers separating school staff from the sign-in areas.
“Right now the district is spending about $1 million each year on safety,” Walters said.
He said “target hardening” is one of the goals he has set for himself in the new position. Target hardening is “making things more difficult to attack,” Walters explained.
“I look forward to providing more training for staff,” he said.
As part of his magistrate's duties, Walters was a member of the National Judicial College where he taught about courtroom safety. Some of those practices can be used to make schools more secure, he said.
As for his magistrate's position. Walters said he will remain through February and start his new job next month.
State Sen. Ray Cleary will have to nominate someone to take over the magistrate's position. That recommendation will have to be approved by Gov. Nikki Haley and the full Senate.
Walters also serves at the judge for the Town of Pawleys Island on a part-time basis. He said he has asked for an opinion from the Advisory Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct but he is pretty certain he can keep that job without it being a conflict of interest.
The salary for Walters' new position is $72,600. Dozier said last year, through initiatives created by Kelley, the district received between $60,000 and $70,000 in workers compensation premiums.
“The position nearly pays for itself,” Dozier said.