HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Students go back to school in less than three weeks in Huntsville and Madison.
The school resource officers responsible for protecting kids spent the summer preparing. "We're law enforcement. We're a counselor, mentor, and we're an educator. That's our fundamental duty as a school resource officer," one instructor said.
The campus cops went through a little bit of summer school to learn how to better prepare for things like, "social media, drug trends that may happen on campuses," explained Corporal Chris Townsend with Madison police.
The mood was casual, but that doesn't mean these officers took their job lightly. One instructor said they have to "empower those kids. Have the kids know that they can take care of themselves. That they have that right."
These men and women remain some of the first people tasked with stopping a horrific threat in the hallways. But instructors say they're not silent sentinels.
"Unlike a patrol officer who goes to a call, who takes care of a situation and may never see the person again, these students, we'll see almost on a daily basis. So we want to make sure we have a proper, professional relationship," Cpl. Townsend said.
Earlier this year, Madison city school leaders proposed nearly $1 million in outside funding to pay for additional officers and mental health counselors. They're still working to raise the money.
"We have two SROs at both high schools. We have an SRO at each middle school. And we have SROs for the elementary school," Madison city schools superintendent Robby Parker said.
From 'get to know you' events' to full-scale exercises, officers have already had a busy summer.
"Everybody's cohesive. That's what I really took away from this training," Hadiya Casimir said. Casimir is an officer in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
And they say they'll be ready to greet the first kids when the buses arrive in a few weeks.
Parker says while they're still working on hiring a few more school resource officers. They have hired mental health counselors for every school in the district.