FLORENCE, Ala. – Many students and teachers are preparing for the first day of classes this week in northwest Alabama. But for those in charge of protecting them, they have had very little time to relax while honing their skills over the summer.
Florence School Resource Officer Matt Burcham has been walking these halls for six years. He is one of two SRO’s who cover the Florence Freshmen Center and high school. For Burcham, tragic events like the ones in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas serve as a grim reminder of how fast things can change.
“When situations such as this last weekend occur, it does tend to raise our awareness of things that are going on,” said SRO Burcham.
For the past two summers, School Resource Officers in Florence have been put through extensive tactical training. They focus on topics such as solo responses to active shooters and distance shooting. It is an initiative which is always evolving.
As a constant evaluation of themselves, a second School Resource Officer was added at Florence Middle School due to the size of the new campus. The SRO program for Florence City Schools is up to nine officers on eight campuses.
“We do have to kind of be on guard to make sure that our training is sufficient enough to handle any threats that may have to be addressed in a school environment,” Burcham explained.
Skills they hope to never use, but they are ready if called upon. The city of Florence and the city school system split the costs of the School Resource Officer program.