RAINSVILLE, Ala. -- With two new hires, there will be a school resource officer at each campus in the DeKalb County Schools system.
Superintendent Jason Barnett made the announcement Thursday. In a joint effort between the DeKalb County Commission and the school board, they're hiring two new school resource officers. "Which would put one at every campus we have," Barnett said. That totals more than a dozen across the county. "There are a lot of folks who are to be thanked for this process," Barnett added.
The costs to bring the program to full force are split about 50/50 with the DeKalb County Commission. "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.
It's been years in the making to get to this point. Other surrounding systems don't have a full school resource officer staff. "I know this program will continue on as I leave and it's really important to the county," said Sheriff Jimmy Harris.
There's no price tag yet. That depends on the hiring process, but Barnett said the money is there. "This SRO program that we have is very vital to what we do. School safety is key in today's society," he added.
Barnett said school resource officers are beneficial to the students on different levels: in drug prevention education, as a trusted support avenue, and as a law enforcement officer.
Parents can expect to see the new resource officers at their jobs at least by next semester. "Safety is at the forefront," Barnett said, "If you don't have a safe and orderly school, learning can't take place and it won't take place."
The system is also increasing safety within the schools themselves. Some of those tactics can't be released for safety reasons, but others can. “There’s a program called Raptor where any person who is checking out a student, they have to show their driver’s license, which they already have to do. Now it’s added, they slide their card. It shows up if they have a criminal background, if they have warrants out for their arrest, if they are a sex offender," Barnett said, "Depending on what level of offense they have, it would alert the authorities, the SRO, the principal. It also lets us know if that person is authorized to check out those students.”
Barnett added some of that was already in place, but this program will help streamline it.