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School resource officers brush up on safety protocol

National Association of School Resource Officers hosts training

POSTED: April 12, 2014 12:15 a.m.
/For The Times

Capt. Joe Carter, right, of the Hall County Sheriff's Office trains school resource officers from around the state.

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When the kids are away, school resource officers get in their training.

“This is just a basic training course for officers working in the school system as school resource officers,” said Capt. Joe Carter with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. “We provide 40 hours of training to give them the very basic tools to integrate into the school system, to work with the school staff and the students.”

The Hall County School District hosted officers during spring break for basic training through the National Association of School Resource Officers.

“It’s a little different than the job of a normal (deputy),” said Carter, first vice president of the association. “In my opinion, it can certainly be more challenging because you do more problem-solving than just arrests and enforcing law.”

Topics during the weeklong course ranged from information on how teenagers behave when under the influence of drugs or alcohol to how to deter petty theft and how to prevent intruders from entering school property.

Some training participants were from the Atlanta Police Department, which launched a full-time school resource officer program in Atlanta Public Schools in August.

“This is our first school year with an actual school resource program, so we now have officers in every middle and every high school that we have in the city,” Sgt. Chad Hannula said. “We have 120-plus schools in the city, so we’re trying to man those and put together a program where we can monitor and have an effect on the safety and quality of life in the schools.”

The content of the training was helpful for Hannula and his teammates.

“It’s been very challenging because we’re trying to build that bridge between the school and the department,” said Sgt. Rosa Quintana-Green about beginning a full-time school program. “What stood out to me is how we can better address middle-school issues, like verbal confrontations.”

Working in a school presents its own unique set of challenges.

Carter shared one story about a school in Alabama where students drew graffiti on bathroom walls.

To combat the problem, school officials put dry-erase boards in the bathrooms, so students could draw on those instead.

Thinking creativity is one of the biggest assets a school resource officer can have, Carter said.

“The biggest challenge is you’re just going into a different environment, where arrests and what people traditionally view as (law enforcement) is probably our last and least desirable option,” he added. “Our goal is to go in there (and) create more positive images ... and create a safe learning environment.”


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