School Resource Officer training is changing to keep up with students

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)– A stabbing at A.C. Flora High School earlier this week and an incident in Orangeburg has highlighted the importance of School Resource Officers in schools.  These days they are expected to wear so many different hats while class is in session.

These days, School Resource Officers (SRO’s) aren’t just in schools for security.

“We’re not walking around dealing with kids talking about, “hey you need to pull up your pants,” or why aren’t you in class? Skipping class isn’t against the law,” Lt. Verlon Rhodes said, with Richland County Sheriff’s Department. 

Nowadays, they are much more than just officers– their law counselors, law advisors, and role models. Someone students can trust and go to if they have any kind of concern.

“We’re sort of like the first responder should anything happen, we’ll be the ones who will be there,” Lt. Rhodes said. 

It is that trust between students and SROs that help keeps schools safe. Because if a kid sees something– they are comfortable enough to go to the SRO and say something.

“School Resource Officer was put on alert, he kept an eye out. Knew which car the guy was driving and everything. And the guy did come to campus, had a weapon, and before he could get out of the car the officer was able to draw down on him because the guy did have the weapon in hand. He prevented something serious from happening on that day,” Lt. Rhodes said. 

These days SROs have to put a lot more tools on their belt to help coach and mentor students. Lt. Rhodes says the training has definitely changed from when he was in the schools– from being more digitally tuned-in and aware of the weapons people could be bringing in.

“We do monitor Facebook, Twitter, and all the social media as best as we possibly can,” Lt. Rhodes said. 

Lt. Rhodes says having more SRO’s and metal detectors could help bring down the number of incidents in schools, but he says they should focus on more counselors and mental health training to see why these students are acting out.

“[Metal detectors] would help. But it’s nott the answer. People, if they want to get weapons in the school, they’ll manage to get them in there somehow or another,” Lt. Rhodes said. 

 Lt. Rhodes said they re-certify their SRO’s every school year to make sure they’re up to date on all the training. He says a lot of SRO’s they say it’s just so rewarding to work with these kids they don’t ever want to leave.

Categories: Local News, News, Richland