This program places full-time deputies on the campuses of two Dixie County Schools. These two officers are liaisons between the Sheriff's Office and the schools. A School Resource Officer (SRO) is a law enforcement officer who is assigned to either an elementary, middle, or high school. The main goal of the SRO is to prevent juvenile delinquency by promoting positive relations between youth and law enforcement.
The SRO position encompasses three major components which allow the SRO to achieve this goal: law enforcement, education, and counseling. These three components allow the SRO to take a proactive approach to law enforcement. SRO's are not just "cops" on campus. SRO's provide all law enforcement duties on their campus. They educate the students by teaching law related classes and other related subjects in the classrooms and counsel both students and parents on various topics.
The SRO becomes involved in the students' lives as a positive role model. The intent is that the positive experiences students have with the SRO will bridge the gap between juveniles and law enforcement, and in doing so, help prevent juvenile crime.
What is a School Resource Officer?
The School Resource Officer (SRO) program is a part of the Community Programs Division of the Sheriff's Office and was developed with Community Oriented Policing in mind. The SRO is an asset used by the community and the school in an attempt to address situations in the lives of students in a manner other than the judicial system.
The School Resource Officer program is a nationally accepted program involving the placement of a law enforcement officer within the educational environment. The officer is involved in a variety of functions while in the school aimed at prevention. In addition to being an active high profile law enforcement officer, the SRO is a resource for students, parents, teachers and administration regarding law issues. Another duty for the SRO is being a link to other service agencies that provide preventive and counseling services within the school district. Working hand-in-hand with the Principal in each school, the SRO assists with finding solutions to problems afflicting today's school age children.
The SRO is a proactive approach to deal with the pressures that today's youth finds itself having to confront. This includes the use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco and peer pressure. These situations are not only in the schools, but in the community as well. The approach of addressing these issues only in the school, or only in the community, has not been completely effective. Traditionally, police and schools did not interact until one called upon the other.
Are the Schools so bad we need SROs?
This is a question that was common with parents, teachers, and community leaders prior to the implementation of the SRO program. The question is easily answered when you ask yourself the following: Wouldn't you rather send your child to a school where there is an active law enforcement officer on duty, working with the school system, who acts quickly to solve problems? By having highly trained and experienced law enforcement officers in our schools we are providing for the safety and security of students, faculty and visitors.
The Dixie County School District, and the Dixie County Sheriff's Office are working together to confront problems our students must face now. By addressing these issues together and proactively we become increasingly effective.
Throughout the United States each year over 200,000 violent crimes occur on school property. Each year 150,000 students stay home because they are "sick of violence and afraid they might be stabbed, shot, or beaten". Every day in the U.S. 60 teachers are assaulted and 160 are threatened. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 135,000 guns are brought to school each day. During the 1992-93 school year, 91% of urban schools, 81% of suburban schools, and 69% of rural schools identified student vs. student assaults as the leading school related violent act.
Although most statistics are nationwide, we can see the trend. An SRO, if utilized correctly should be the first line of defense against gangs, drugs, alcohol, and school violence. The Supreme Court recognized the effects that gangs and drugs have in our schools and has ruled that "gangs and drugs" are inherently dangerous. They have also stated that every student in the United States has the right to feel safe while attending school.
Through prevention programs, it is hoped that in the Dixie County we can reverse the trends that are hurting our youth and education. The schools understand and believe that we hold the future of youth in our hands.
What do SROs do in the Schools?
The SRO works with the administration, educators, and counselors to make our schools safe. It is the mission of the Dixie County Sheriff's Office School Resource Program to provide a safe learning environment that promotes good health and is free from violence, weapons, hazards, vandalism and substance abuse. The role an SRO plays will differ in each situation. An SRO can be called upon to enforce, teach, counsel, assist, supervise or direct in order to get the job done.