Security officers at all schools

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, December 7, 2022

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Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) has experienced an excellent partnership with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office for decades through the School Resource Officer (SRO) Program, which was designed to place deputies in schools to enhance safety, educate students about matters such as the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, and to serve as additional positive role models for students.

In previous years, CCPS utilized an SRO at the high school, the middle school, and one rotating officer who served all three elementary schools at various times throughout the day.

With the retirement of the elementary school SRO this summer, CCPS was facing the prospect of not having an SRO for any of its elementary schools.

“We knew that in light of the school violence being experienced nationwide, it was essential for us to have armed security in each of our five schools to begin this school year,” said CCPS Superintendent Dr. Robbie Mason.

According to Mason, while there was a demand for additional deputies to fill this void, the Sheriff’s Office was experiencing a temporary shortage of deputies and there were not enough officers with SRO training available to staff the three elementary schools to begin the school year.

In order to fill the security void at the three elementary schools, CCPS began to explore the idea of utilizing an armed school security officer (SSO) at each elementary school.

Mason said SSOs are required to have been active law enforcement officers within the last ten years and must become certified through the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) SSO Program within 90 days of hire. CCPS worked with ICS Security Services to identify potential candidates from the surrounding area to work in the three elementary schools. After interviewing with local school administration, one school security officer was selected for each elementary school and they were approved for hire by the Charlotte County School Board in August. Each of these officers has now earned his certification through DCJS.

“Having security officers in each of our elementary schools has made a tremendous positive impact on the climate of these schools,” Mason said. “Our students and staff feel safer as the security officers are constantly seen patrolling school hallways, ensuring that doors are properly locked, and frequently conducting perimeter checks for their schools. While the safety of our students and staff is paramount, I am also thoroughly impressed with the interactions between these officers and our students. These gentlemen have frequent positive and friendly interactions with our students and staff and they are incredible role models for our young people. In conjunction with our SRO program at the middle and high schools, this program has proven to be extremely successful.”