School Resource Officer Program
The Weatherford Police Department School Resource Officer (SRO) Program continues to be a positive influence in the Weatherford Independent School District. The District includes 12 campuses -- seven elementary schools, two middle schools, one ninth grade school, one alternative campus, and one high school. The School Resource Officer works closely with campus administrators and staff. These meetings are intended to build a stronger bond between the schools and the police department. This article will address the following questions that are frequently asked about the program: What is a School Resource Officer? Are the schools so bad that we need SROs (School Resource Officers)? What do SROs do in the schools? What kind of specialized training do SROs have? Who is my child’s SRO? How can I contact my child’s SRO? What do SROs do in the summer?
What is a School Resource Officer?
The School Resource Officer (SRO) Program is the next step in Community Oriented Policing (COP). The SRO is an asset used by the community and the school in an attempt to address situations proactively in the lives of students rather than in the judicial system.
The School Resource Officer program is a nationally-accepted program involving the placement of a law enforcement officer within the educational environment. The officer is involved in a variety of functions while in the school, aimed at prevention. In addition to being an active high profile law enforcement officer, the SRO is a resource for students, parents, teachers and administration regarding law issues. The SRO is a link to other service agencies that provide preventive and counseling services within the school district. Working hand-in-hand with the Principal in each school, the SRO assists with finding positive solutions to problems afflicting today's school age children.
The SRO helps students deal with the presssures facing them today such as the use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, along with peer pressure, gang activity, and bullying. These situations are sometimes present in the schools and community. Providing classroom instruction has proven to be more effective than methods used in the past.
Are the schools so bad we need SROs? This is a question that was common with parents, teachers, and community leaders prior to the implementation of the SRO program nationwide in early 1995. While there have been some concerns within and around the Weatherford School system, an officer in the school is not a required necessity. However, any time an officer is in an area, that officer's presence alone will deter behavior not normally accepted by society and/or the school system.
The Weatherford Independent School District, the City of Weatherford, and the Weatherford Police Department, are working together to assist our students with challenges they face. By addressing these issues proactively, we can become increasily effective.
What do SROs do in the schools?
The SRO works with the administration, educators, and counselors. The role each plays is dependent on the need of the situation. The Weatherford Independent School District is dedicated to providing an education to each of its students. With this goal in mind, all assets and services are pledged to this end. Duties of the SRO include:
SRO's are also specialized in juvenile law and are members of the Texas Gang Investigator’s Association. SRO's look at the “total picture” when dealing with students, and get others within the school system involved to solve the problem. For example: A student with a suspected substance abuse problem is a different concern than a student being harassed or a student suspected in being involved in gang activity. No one person has the "final" say as to the solution to a situation, as each has differing roles, authority, and approaches. The major concern is the student, the needs to be addressed, and possible solutions. As teachers, SROs have taught anti-drug, alcohol and tobacco awareness courses to all 8th graders through their health classes. Sophomores are given training in adult expectations and laws that could be violated for certain behaviors and SROs serve as guest speakers in a myriad of classrooms -- from public speaking to constitutional law. SRO's also provide training to school staff as needed in the area of school safety. The SRO has become a valuable asset to the police department, school district, and the community.
What kind of specialized training do SRO's have?
The School Resource Officers are a specialized unit that is trained in a lot of different areas. SRO's are trained to identify and intervene in the area of juvenile gangs. The SROs are members of the National Association of School Resource Officers and have attended Advanced SRO Schools. Active shooter training is carried out throughout the year in order to plan for a worst case scenario and officers understand the safety needs of the schools. The SRO also works with many agencies such as the Department of Human Services, health services, substance abuse counseling, mental health counseling, and parent, student, staff counseling, and the Parker County Juvenile Probation Office. Officers have knowledge in the different kinds of drugs in the area and most have been through public speaking and instructor courses to insure that they are able to pass this knowledge on.
How can I contact my child's SRO?
You can reach your child’s SRO by calling the school during regular hours and asking for the SRO. However, if school is not in session or the switchboard is closed, one may leave their contact information for the SRO at the Weatherford Police Department (817-598-4310).
What do SROs do in the summer?
The School Resource Officers work hard throughout the school year and their work does not stop when school ends. The School Resource Officers attend summer school with the kids and help out with the Kids Unite program that is offered. The SRO's are also certified Marine Safety Officers and will patrol Weatherford Lake during peak summer hours. They patrol the park areas to keep children safe and when needed to do so will help out on patrol during times when extra officers are needed. The SRO's also attend all of their mandatory training during the summer months so that it does not interfere with school attendance.