The Daviess County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with Daviess County Board of Education, has established a program known as the School Resource Officer Program. The S.R.O. Program is a nationally accepted program involving the assignment of a carefully selected and specially trained law enforcement officer to work directly in the school, in full cooperation with school administrators and faculty.
The S.R.O. program is a community policing approach practiced in a school environment. The school is the officer's beat and community. The exclusive focus on the physical and social territory of the school is an important aspect of the S.R.O. concept. Unlike officers who respond to school problems as a result of a 911 call by the principal, the S.R.O. knows the school's physical layout and is aware of who belongs on school property and who does not. The S.R.O. wears the police uniform and weapon while on duty in the school.
School Resource Officers have three main functions: law enforcement officer, teacher, and advisor / mentor. First, as a law enforcement officer, the S.R.O. maintains a safe and secure school environment in which students feel safe to learn and teachers feel safe to teach. Second, as a teacher, the S.R.O. conducts classroom presentations pertaining to law related topics and in doing so, informs students and promotes positive attitudes regarding the police role in society. Last, the S.R.O. acts as an advisor to students, parents, teachers, and staff on issues related to the law enforcement, substance abuse, delinquency, and other law related topics. Students, pa rents, teachers, and staff can talk with the S.R.O. about problems and help find possible solutions. When necessary, the S.R.O. may make referrals to appropriate social agencies for additional assistance.
The most effective way an S.R.O. can accomplish these goals is to be a positive role model. Students learn from every interaction they have with an S.R.O. It is essential for an S.R.O. to be a positive role model who endorses high moral standards, uses good judgment and discretion, is consistent and fair, respects all students, and displays a sincere concern for the school community. School Resource Officers must maintain a professional appearance; be visible, accessible, and willing to talk to students; attend and participate in school activities; interact positively with students and the community, taking their concerns seriously; and maintain a positive relationship with the faculty and administrators.
The School Resource Officer is an extension of the Sheriff's Office as well as the school principal's office, as the officer's duties are comprised of both law enforcement and education. The S.R.O. reports to both the sheriff (via chain of command) and the school principal. However, the S.R.O. is not a disciplinarian for the school - that job remains with the administrators and faculty.
As a resource for school administrators, the S.R.O. serves as a means of establishing order and safety, so that learning can take place - the business that schools are about.
Almost immediately after the massacre of the school children in Connecticut in 2012, meetings were held with leaders of the Daviess County Public School System to discuss local school security. Our School Resource Officers, along with school personnel, spent much of 2013 updating our school’s internal active shooter response protocol.
A direct result of these meetings was a directive to have all patrol deputies to visit schools, one by one while on patrol, and walk through the school. Our intentions are two-fold; increase law enforcement presence in the schools and to familiarize deputies with the physical layout of the facilities they may have to respond to in the future. Our S.R.O.’s have also been instrumental in determining better evacuation and notification protocols in the event such needs arise.
Legislation was passed in 2014 requiring schools to hold lockdown drills in the fall and spring semesters. Once again, our School Resource Officers, as well as Special Deputy Youngman, met with, and worked closely with school officials to develop training protocol and to observe school personnel as they conducted the drills. The initial and subsequent drills, held throughout 2015, 2016, and 2017 have proven to be highly successful.