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Hall school resource officers vehicles get fresh coat of paint
Bobby Jones, left, of C.W. Davis, and Scott Buffington, of East Hall High, Hall County school resource officers, arrive at the school system offices for a meeting.

A school resource officer’s vehicle is one of the most important tools in his or her arsenal.

“An SRO car is probably one of the most critical things about our program,” said Lt. Earl Roach, school safety coordinator for the Hall County School District. “That’s one of the first things you see when you pull into a gate at a high school or middle school.

“We want you to see that car. That tells you there’s an officer on campus, and that is a great deterrent.”

But time has taken its toll on the fleet of 12 cars, especially with some being the original cars purchased when the program began more than a decade ago.

As Roach said, the Ford Crown Victorias still run fine, but they needed a face-lift — which they’ve been getting over the past few months.

“We wanted the cars to be sort of unique and have their own appearance,” Roach said.

In addition to the new paint job, the top light was taken off the roof to give a slick appearance. All lights are inside the vehicle.

What Roach is most proud of is the Hall County School District logo now displayed on both quarter panels of every car.

“It’s a great partnership,” he said about the relationship between the school district and the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. “It really looks nice, too.”

Superintendent Will Schofield said it’s all part of keeping that relationship between the sheriff’s office and the school district strong.

“It continues to be amazing with what we can do when we don’t worry about who gets the credit,” Schofield said. “For the last decade, we’ve had a great relationship with the law enforcement. No. 1, children are safer because of it and No. 2, taxpayers benefit when we work together and share resources.”

A new paint job is a much lower cost than a complete new vehicle.

“To buy one brand-new Crown Victoria is at least ... $26,000,” Roach said. “That’s a ballpark figure. We can paint seven for half the price it would cost to buy a brand-new car. It’s a big difference.”

Refurbishment is $2,200 per car, for a total of $15,400. The district will pay 70 percent of the total cost out of the general fund, or nearly $11,000, while the sheriff’s office will pay the remaining 30 percent.

Roach added parents and other community members feel comforted when seeing a resource officer’s vehicle in the parking lot, particularly if it’s painted black, which commands respect.

“Appearance means everything,” Roach said. “If you’ve got a car that’s sitting there with a faded paint job and doesn’t look like it should, that’s not a great first impression.”

Schofield agreed.

“I think it’s very important,” he said. “It gives a sense of security. Equally importantly, folks maybe considering doing something bad at a school will see that vehicle and (think) maybe that’s not the school to go to.”