Feb. 15 marks National School Resource Officer Appreciation Day, a day dedicated to recognizing and honoring the tireless efforts of law enforcement officers who commit their time and lives to safeguarding school communities. The invaluable contributions of school resource officers, both within the Lexington County community and across the nation, are worthy of recognition every day, especially today.

Understanding the Role of School Resource Officers:

School-based policing is one of the fastest-growing areas of law enforcement. The role of a school resource officer is vital in fostering a safe and conducive learning environment for students, staff, and parents. SROs provide crime prevention and law enforcement services within and around school buildings and campuses. They play a crucial role in identifying and addressing potential problems, providing a wide range of information, and coordinating efficient emergency response plans.

“SROs, like any other deputy, are tasked with enforcing the laws of the state of South Carolina,” said Sgt. Wesley Swinson, a former SRO who supervises numerous SROs in his current role. “They also have the additional responsibilities of providing for the physical safety and security of the school where they’re assigned, including students and staff.”    

From Traffic Directors to Trusted Mentors:

No two days are alike for school resource officers. They engage in diverse tasks, like directing traffic and greeting staff and students to janitorial duties. Beyond these responsibilities, SROs actively cultivate meaningful relationships with students, reinforcing the understanding they are there to offer support and assistance.

Shaping Futures and Influence Beyond the School Years:

The mentorship provided by SROs is a key aspect that leaves a lasting impact during and after high school on the student community. By acting as role models, they make positive impressions on students’ lives during a pivotal period of growth. 

“Students are at an age where they’re impressionable, so being able to come into a school and show kids we’re not what they might see on TV. We’re not what they might hear people talk about. We’re here to help them,” SRO Morgan Boozer said. “We’re here to help them grow and learn. I feel like everything I do here in my role is going to change their perspective as they move through life and that’s very important.”

From Intensive Academies to Ongoing Readiness:

Ensuring the safety of the Lexington County education community is the top priority for Lexington County Sheriff’s Department SROs. Candidates undergo a comprehensive two-week training at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, supplemented by additional courses such as online training, active shooter preparedness, and safe schools training. Continuous learning is encouraged to ensure SROs are well-equipped for any situation.

Lexington County Sheriff’s Department’s Commitment to Young Generations:

Individuals aspiring to become school resource officers should possess leadership qualities, a positive attitude, and the ability to navigate challenging situations. The role offers a well-rounded experience, transcending the traditional job description and creating a sense of community.

“Our school resource officers are committed to protecting one of our community’s most important resources…our future,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. “Students, and those who teach and care for them at school, deserve safety and security while on campus. SROs are on the front lines with both a visible presence and a servant’s heart, often touching lives in ways we’ll never know.”  

A Call to Join the LCSD Community and Shape Lives: 

“I’m out in the hallway for all of the change of classroom movement, so I get to interact with all of the students and it’s just a really good time hanging out with the kids and being a part of their lives,” SRO Stephen Durco said.

The mentorship role of an SRO stands out as one of the most rewarding aspects of the career. Making a positive impact on students’ lives during a crucial period in their development leaves a lasting legacy. 

On National School Resource Officer Appreciation Day, let’s extend our heartfelt gratitude to these unsung heroes who work diligently to create safe, nurturing environments for students. Their dedication, mentorship, and commitment to community safety make them an invaluable asset to our beloved communities. 

If you are passionate about making a positive impact and the role of an SRO resonates with you, consider applying today to join the LCSD community. Embrace the opportunity to be part of a community that goes beyond a job, offering a fulfilling and impactful career.