DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. -- School resource officers are on every campus in the DeKalb County Schools system, which is something county leaders said has benefits that extend outside of safety.
DeKalb County deputy Jeremy Bell spends his time at the DeKalb County Technology Center. He helps make up a fully staffed program of deputies that act as school resource officers in the system.
"We have one in every school now," said Sheriff Nick Welden, "That was due to very good working cooperation with the County Commission and the school board." Welden added a fully staffed SRO program was a priority for him before he took office. When he did in January, he helped see the program to its completion. The costs are split 50/50 between the DeKalb County Commission and DeKalb County Schools, and it has been years in the making.
County leaders announced the move to a full staff last year and pledged to have it in place as quickly as possible. "It's not something that we'd like to do, it's something that we literally have to do in this day and time in which we live," said Commission President Ricky Harcrow at the time.
Superintendent Jason Barnett said the deputies extend benefits outside of safety. "They go into kindergarten classes, they read to the kindergarten students. As they get on up into the fifth grade, they have D.A.R.E. programs where they're in there regularly, teaching kids about the importance of making wise decisions. As they get into high school they're mentoring, and counseling, and advising," Barnett said.
Welden said they plan to have advanced training this summer for the SROs.