School Resource Officer (SRO) Program
Community policing in Virginia schools represents a significant departure from the era of traditional policing. Today, carefully selected, specially trained, and properly equipped law enforcement officers with sworn law enforcement authority, called School Resource Officers (SROs), integrate directly in the educational setting. SROs use collaborative, proactive community-oriented policing concepts to support the school community. SROs are caring adults who build trust within the school community and help students navigate challenging situations on and off campus.
Leveraging the tremendous value of SROs in a school community, the Louisa County Public Schools Safe Schools Task Force in 2017 made the recommendation to expand the existing three-person SRO team. As a result, four additional deputies were selected and assigned as SROs in each elementary school for the 2018-19 academic year. Louisa became one of the only counties in the Commonwealth to have SROs assigned full-time every school day to grades PK – 12. The vibrant school division-Sheriff’s Office partnership continues today with SROs assigned to all Louisa County Public Schools (2 at LCHS, 1 at LCMS, 1 at MNES, 1 at TJES, 1 at TES, and 1 at JES).
With a community policing approach as the foundation of the partnership, the school division and Sheriff’s Office engage in ongoing collaboration to address not only issues of concern, but also initiatives to create a safe, supportive, and welcoming school environment. Doing so extends the role of the SRO beyond law enforcement and incident response to include school safety assessments, emergency response planning, crime prevention activities, law-related education, mentoring, and diversion from the criminal justice system that contributes to positive outcomes for youth. With the same SRO working their assigned school each day, the SRO becomes not only a protector, but a valued ally and resource to students, staff, and parents. In Louisa County, seeing a Sheriff’s Office vehicle in front of a school is not a sign of trouble, but a visible sign of caring and support for each and every member of the school community.
The SRO mission is simple—build positive relationships and trust to maximize student potential every day. We do this by striving to achieve two important goals: (1) assist in creating a safe, secure, and welcoming school environment; and (2) assist in promoting a positive, supportive, and inclusive school climate. Key objectives supporting these goals include:
- Bridge the gap with school community
- Increase law-related education
- Expand school safety and security efforts
- Reduce and prevent crime, violence, and victimization
- Reduce conflict
- Support effective interventions for students
- Minimize student involvement with the juvenile and criminal justice systems
- Be accessible to the school community 24/7/365
To achieve these ends, SROs fulfill three principle roles in the school community. These roles include:
Law Enforcement Officer
As a sworn law enforcement officer, the SRO’s primary role in school is as a law enforcement officer. The SRO assumes primary responsibility for responding to requests for assistance from administrators and coordinating the response of other law enforcement resources to the school, if necessary. The SRO works with school administrators in problem solving to prevent crime and promote safety in the school environment. The SRO collaborates with school personnel to reduce student engagement with the juvenile justice system and divert students from the courts, when possible
Informal Counselor and Community Liaison
SROs serve as informal counselors who provide guidance to students and act as a link to support services both inside and outside the school environment. The SRO is aware of community resources and contacts that can be helpful in solving many problems. Some of these community resources include mental health services, substance abuse assessment and treatment providers, child protective services, runaway shelters, domestic violence services, and family counseling agencies.
As a law-related educator, the SRO helps students develop the knowledge and skills to become responsible citizens in their school and local communities. In addition to building awareness of law enforcement practices, school safety strategies, and crisis response procedures, the SRO provides age-appropriate instruction emphasizing social competence, making good choices, and self-esteem. The cornerstone of law-related education is the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office Learn and Win (LAW) program. The LAW program is provided to students in grades PK - 12. In addition, the SRO provides training and education to staff in areas such as critical incident response, gang awareness, substance abuse, and other topics of interest.
Underpinning all three roles, SROs serve as positive role models for many youth who may not be exposed to such role models in today’s society. Some ways the SRO acts as a positive role model include: setting limits by being clear about what is acceptable and unacceptable; setting an example; being honest; being consistent with students, staff, and parents; encouraging responsibility; and showing respect for students, faculty, and staff.
It is the policy of the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office to endorse and support through staffing the creation of positive interaction between law enforcement and the school community. This endeavor is a partnership between education and law enforcement, which supports a collaborative, problem solving approach to issues of crime and violence in schools.
SROs are here for every member of the school community--students, staff, and parents/guardians. If you have a question, comment, or concern, please contact us at any time. SROs may be reached in one of the following ways:
- Email (available in the staff directory of each school’s home page)
- Calling each school’s main office during school hours
- Calling the Sheriff’s Office at (540) 967-1234 after school hours.