The Columbia County school board last week promoted a man endorsed by the late Buddy Hendry to be his successor as director of school safety.
The board named longtime school safety officer Lance Poss to the position during a Tuesday meeting.
Superintendent Charles Nagle told the board that Hendry, who died last month from lung cancer, wanted Poss to replace him.
“Buddy was my best friend,” Poss said. “I got to know Buddy working a special at Harlem High School when I was on the sheriff’s department.
“When I came on the school board, I literally talked to Buddy every day, even on weekends, even when he was sick.”
Poss started his law enforcement career with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office 20 years ago as a dispatcher. He eventually became a road patrol deputy and instructor with the Drug Awareness and Resistance Education program.
After four years, he joined the school system public safety office.
“You’re kind of a road patrol deputy on foot,” Poss said of his job. “It’s basically the same duties as a sheriff’s deputy, just in the schools.”
Though Poss is stationed at Evans High, he also patrols Riverside Middle, and Bel Air and Westmont elementary schools. He assumes his new role as director on July 1.
Poss, who is one of just eight school safety officers responsible for 32 schools and nearly 25,000 pupils, said he would like to expand the department.
“As funding becomes available, I would like to see the department grow by a few officers,” he said. “Even though we’ve added schools, with the funding like it is, we haven’t been able to add officers.”
Despite the added work and the loss of Hendry, Poss said his officers have performed their duties well.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way they handled themselves during all this,” he said. “We’ve been a close-knit family, and that was one of Buddy’s strong points. He treated us like officers, like people, like family.”