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More SRO’s for safer school campuses

LENOIR, NC (August 31, 2018) — Schools opened last week with a record-number of law enforcement officers on campuses, as Chiefs of Police, the Sheriff and on-duty officers patrolled campuses alongside the 19 full-time School Resource Officers (SROs) that are now a permanent measure of safety and protection.

Prior to school starting, 12 full-time SROs were positioned in high schools, middle schools and one at an elementary school. District administration and law enforcement agencies have worked toward adding more than a part-time or shared SRO at most elementary schools.

The Caldwell County Commission recently funded six full-time positions at the Sheriff’s Department for full-time deputies in outlying Pre-K-8 schools and in the remaining Pre-K-5 elementary schools located within the county jurisdiction.

Granite Falls Middle School School Resource Officer Amber Grout stands with GFMS students from left: Duncan Prince, 8th grade; Jade Moyer, 6th grade; and Caleb Costin, 7th grade.

In collaboration with the county’s efforts to provide more SROs, the school district sought funding through the School Safety Grants Program, which launched a 3-week window for applications in July. The grant program, supported by the North Carolina General Assembly through the NC Department of Public Education, earmarked grant funds for elementary and middle school SRO positions.

Ryan Cooper, Assistant Principal at William Lenoir Middle stands with SRO Mitch Foust of the Lenoir Police Department.

Funds were awarded by the State Superintendent of Schools through a competitive grant process. The Caldwell County School System was awarded $233,331. This allowed funding of salary and benefits for four SRO grant-funded positions previously assigned and an additional SRO position at the Lenoir Police Department. The grant funds will also cover training costs of SROs.

The school system will continue to pursue funding sources that will support a full-time SRO at every school in the district. School Resource Officers, in conjunction with nationally recommended areas of mental health screening of students; facility and equipment improvements; and training, continue to serve as integral components to maintaining a safe and secure school for all students.