Violence in schools across the country has led to the hiring of more school resource officers, who need specific training to handle a variety of situations in a school environment.
"First and foremost, it is security on the campus," said Rutherford County Sheriff's Capt. Barry Hendrixson.
The Rutherford County School District uses 57 SROs, and they have been in training this week to prepare for the first day of class.
Among their tasks, these former law enforcement officers have practiced clearing rooms and filing reports in dangerous situations.
"They're the sheriff in their own community. When you are talking from 600 to 700 kids, all the way up to 2,100 or 2,200 kids, it's a pretty demanding job," Hendrixson said.
Rutherford County schools were the first in the state with an SRO program, and they have been recognized nationally several times over the past 20 years for their work.
A property tax increase is paying for an SRO to be at every school in the district this school year. David Crim will be at Oakland High and has kept students safe through two bomb threats over the years.
"The most important thing an SRO does is develop a relationship with the students in the building," Crim said.
"Young people tend not to think before they act. And we try to get with them, talk with them about the severity of different actions they take," said Rutherford County SRO George Brown.
The SROs will teach safety programs and patrol halls throughout the school day, so they are spending this week learning about the buildings inside and out to keep the kids safe.
And the beginning of class will not be the end of training for the SROs. They will still be heading to the firing range, attending drill practice and meeting with faculty throughout the year, just to give parents a little peace of mind.
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