Celebrating an important day – National School Resource Officer Appreciation Day

Today is National School Resource Officer (SRO) Appreciation Day. And for us here at the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, it’s one of the most important days and an opportunity to celebrate. It’s a chance for our local communities, schools and parents to recognize the valuable work SROs play, each and every day in the schools they serve. 

SROs play a unique role within law enforcement. Whether it’s directing school traffic, serving as a mentor or just being someone a young person can talk to, they are essential members of the education community. We had the honor of sitting down with two of Lexington County’s SROs to get a glimpse inside their day-to-day duties and their pursuit of keeping schools, students and teachers safe. 

Meet your local LCSD SROs: SRO BEN BOOTH – Lexington High School

Booth began his career with Lexington County Sheriff’s Department working on patrol for several years and eventually working his way up into Major Crimes in the Special Victims unit. With a passion to continue serving his community, Booth moved into a position as a school resource officer. After working for three different schools, when you ask Booth his main reason for continuing his career as an SRO he said it’s simple, “Kids aren’t always able to help themselves. I like to help protect them.”

SRO REGGIE LIGHTY – White Knoll High School

Starting in 2014 as a detention deputy in the jail, Reggie Lighty went above and beyond what was expected of him to meet his goal of getting out in the community on patrol. After being selected and successfully completing a program that paves the way for that transition, Lighty’s lieutenant asked if he would be interested in working as a school resource officer. With a little hesitation, Lighty took on the role with pride. It became clear after the first year he made the right decision. Lighty is now serving his third year at White Knoll High School in Lexington County. “This is where I want to be. This is where I can make a difference,” said Lighty. 

A look into the day-to-day of an SRO and how they connect with the students and staff

There’s really no predicting what the day-to-day of an SRO looks like. Whether it’s greeting the staff, directing parking lot traffic or even janitorial duties, “You’ve got to help other people out when they can’t always help you,” said Booth. 

One of the most important daily tasks is simply talking to the students. Making a strong presence to ensure the students know an SRO is there to help them.

“We’re not just the mean guys who pulled over your neighbor who’s upset. We’re a person, we were a kid at one time,” Booth said. “We understand that there’s many challenges in life.”

According to Lighty, having an open door policy implies an act of trust between SRO and student. “Majority of the students know who I am,” Lighty said. “They know they can come to me.”

The rewarding impact and why SROs love what they do

There are a lot of reasons why SROs love what they do. Mentorship is a key role that makes an impact during and after high school. Being able to make a positive impression on the students’ lives at an age when you can make a difference is a rewarding part of their position. 

High school is a point in life when you remember who impacts you the most. According to Lighty and Booth, one of the biggest impacts each has experienced is watching the students into the most successful version of themselves. High school comes with many challenges. Sometimes those challenges can interfere with making it to graduation for some students. Watching someone fight through it and walk across that stage at the end of the year is what makes it all worth it.

“We have a lot of great kids in Lexington County. I wouldn’t give them up for the world,” Booth said. 

Training is key

The safety of our education community is our top priority. Whenever necessary, LCSD provides any additional training needed for SROs. Candidates go through SRO school at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy for a two-week period. Additional training, such as online courses, active shooter training and safe schools training, are always accessible and encouraged by LCSD.

What to know about becoming an SRO

Being able to lead by example with a positive attitude makes a major difference. You will be faced with difficult challenges when considering the role of an SRO. You’re going to gain experience in every aspect including calls from parents to community and athletic events. It’s a well-rounded position that feels more like a community than just a job. 

Want to feel appreciated like Lighty and Booth?

Do you want to make an impact? If the role of an SRO sounds like you, apply today to join the LCSD community. Contact us if you have any questions. Our door is always open at the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.