Protecting Schools: Warren County School Resource Officers

Yesterday, President Obama called for more federal aid to states too hire so-called "school resource officers" as part of his gun safety proposals.

In Warren County, talks of having an armed guard in schools for protection began more than 14 years ago. That's how long the county schools have had school resource officers.

Every Warren County High School has a school resource officer, also responsible for a middle school, and since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, they've made an extra effort to be present in the elementary schools too.

Each officer is a Sheriff's deputy, trained and armed for even the worst of situations.
Situations we think about even more since that fateful day in Newtown.

"Unfortunate incidents that have happened around the world can cause everyone to have a heightened sense of awareness, and if a school resource officer here can help students have a good, safe learning environment... that's what we need." said Warren East High School Resource Officer and Sheriff's Deputy Mike Waldrop.

It was the Sheriff who suggested having deputies in schools even before the Columbine Massacre in 1999.

"We live in a society now where you need law and order. They rob a bank everyday here somewhere... have been. You have to have people to protect the citizens of Warren County, and the school resource officer is one of the most important things we have," said Warren County Sheriff Jerry "Peanuts" Gaines.

Some have suggested going a step further, and arming teachers.
The Sheriff says he could only hope it would never get to that point, but if it did, extensive training would be necessary.

"I'm not saying they should be or shouldn't have them, but you just don't want them in there with a gun not knowing what they're doing," said Sheriff Gaines.

One parent says he might be open to the idea.

"That would seem appropriate if someone was trained in that process," said WEHS Parent Danny Vincent.

Gaines says ideally, the federal government should help pay for resource officers so it never reaches that point.

These officers are paid by both the school system, and the Sheriff's Department, but currently receive no state or federal funding.


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