14 new school resource officers coming to Lexington-Richland Five

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Lexington-Richland School District Five will be greeting 14 additional school resource officers this school year. (Photo courtesy of Lexington-Richland Five)

Parents, students and teachers alike can rest a little easier this year at Lexington-Richland Five.

Thanks to an expanded partnership with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, a total of 14 new school resource officers will be patrolling the district.

Eight SROs from the RCSD already have been placed, and there are six more on the way from the LCSD. The Lexington deputies first must complete a specialized training that will equip them with the tools needed for student safety.

“This is a tremendous demonstration of the partnerships that exist by and between the schools and the law enforcement agencies,” said District Five Chief Student Services Officer Michael Harris.

In a release issued by the district, Harris described the important motives behind school administrators’ decision to bring in more law enforcement.

“Additional SROs are important for a number of reasons. These reasons include personal and direct access to an officer on a daily basis, immediate law enforcement service in the event of a disturbance at school, the presence and high visibility of law enforcement on our school campuses, and the increased sense of safety and security for students, parents and the community – among other benefits,” he said.

Like many across the country, District Five’s school board elected to take steps to improve security after tragic shootings occurred in Colorado and Connecticut. The trustees voted in June to provide 13 new officers; a grant obtained by the RCSD added one more SRO to the plan.

“There are many priorities in our schools but nothing more important than the safety of our students and employees,” School Board Chairperson Robert Gantt said.

The 14 additional SROs will join nine others already working with District Five. After the LCSD officers receive their school-specific training, there will be at least one officer assigned per school.

“Student safety is our No. 1 goal, and SROs are an important part of a school’s team. These deputies help us prevent and deter crimes at schools,” said District Five Security Specialist Michael Poole. “Additionally, they are wonderful mentors and role models for the students and often teach classes on a number of student safety and crime prevention topics.”

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