From the students and teachers on campus, to their loved ones at home or work, Lexington County residents can rest easy knowing for the first time in history every public school in the county has a permanently assigned school resource officer.
Almost 40 Lexington County deputies have taken on the responsibility of being the face of law enforcement in 35 schools, with two on duty each day at Chapin, Irmo, Lexington and White Knoll high schools.
“This is a landmark accomplishment that has taken a lot of work and cooperation from all the law enforcement agencies and the five school districts across Lexington County,” Sheriff Jay Koon says. “I’m proud of the role we’ve played in providing full SRO coverage for our community’s elementary, middle and high schools.”
Being an SRO comes with many responsibilities. As well as crime prevention and crisis response, officers are there to build relationships with students as another adult they can turn to for support and advice.
“He’s a true definition of a school resource officer,” Brad Coleman, principal of Sandhills Middle School says of SRO Durco. “He’s a resource to all of our students, our faculty, our staff. He just connects with our students, building positive relationships with all our students.”
From leading the color guard team, to having lunch with students, organizing a crime scene activity to explaining the role of law enforcement, no two days are the same for our dedicated team of SROs.
“One of the biggest things we do is to talk to kids,” explains SRO Booth, “We tell them, hey, we’re not just a face, we’re a person, we were a kid at one time, we understand there’s many challenges in life.”
These conversations can make the difference between a young person turning down the wrong path and having the support they need to make better choices.
The important role they play as mentors to students is recognized each year on SRO Appreciation Day.
Funding for these additional SRO posts was made possible in part thanks to hard work by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and the General Assembly.
“Thanks to pay increases in the previous two budget cycles, we’ve seen deputies step up to take on these important roles,” Koon says. “The pay increases have also positioned us to hire deputies from the outside.”
The growing department is always on the lookout for the next team members ready to serve the community.