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School resource officers train for new year

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Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington hosted training this week for more than 50 School Resources Officers from around the state so the officers are prepared to head “back to school” in the next couple of months.

Twenty-eight officers from various law enforcement agencies throughout the state conducted their basic training as SROs all this week, while 25 others attended an advanced class Wednesday through Friday; all training concluded today.  

Officers in the basic class learned the roles and responsibilities of an SRO, crisis planning, gang and gang-related signs and issues, interview and interrogation of juveniles, search and seizure of juveniles and K-9 use on the campus.  They also learned about youth trends, such as Internet, Facebook, Twitter and social media, so that officers can better understand the mentality of the students.

The advanced training expanded on some of these same issues, but also discussed more scenario-based situations and juvenile issues.

Commander Bobby Robinson, Commander of Programs (Youth Division, D.A.R.E., Elderly, SRO) for Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, organized the training.  

“When I went to school, if there were fights, you fought with your fists or somebody might have brass knuckles or somebody might have a stick,” said Robinson, a 30-year law enforcement veteran.  “Back in the day, the worst you got was a bloody nose.  Those all go away.  Now it’s gunfire, people are shot and stabbed with major injuries.  It’s a change of culture.”

Training for SROs has also evolved.  

“We used to teach officers to protect the school from intruders from the outside,” said Robinson.  “Now we have to look at that a lot of times that it comes from within.

“SROs started off in the beginning of trying to make contact with kids and to build rapport between police and the children in the community.  Now it’s gone more towards a safety issue and having an officer there who can react and be a first responder,” Robinson said.

Developing that relationship with students and faculty is so important, Robinson says, so that problems can be stopped before they occur.

“In the training, we let officers know that you can’t just blow off something and say, ‘That’s just a kid running off at the mouth’,” Robinson said.  “You have to follow up on everything.  After it happens, it’s too late to stop it.  It’s always better to err on the side of caution than the side of something happening.”  

Deputy Mike Almond, a five-year veteran with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office, is excited about his role as a new SRO this fall and knows he has some important shoes to fill.  “Nationwide, we’ve had some events that have occurred, and because of that, we want to do everything we can to protect our children, to provide them a safe environment where they can be educated.”

Sheriff Whittington has been working closely with Bossier Schools Superintendent D.C. Machen and the Bossier Parish School Board for the implementation of SROs in each of the 34 school campuses in the parish.  

“I have managed the SRO program in a way that has produced professional results we have come to expect from those entrusted with the responsibility of keeping our children safe,” Whittington said.  “With this expansion of the SRO program, I commit to the residents of Bossier Parish that I will continue sound management of the program so that children can learn and grow in the safest environment.”

Bossier Sheriff’s Office Captain Danny Dison, director of security for the Bossier Parish School system and supervisor of all SROs in Bossier Parish, is pleased with the quality of training the officers receive.

“These officers are dealing with issues in the schools that weren’t even thought about years ago,” Dison said.  “Staying on top of youth trends, teaching styles and juvenile legal issues will ensure our SROs are prepared this fall as more than 22,000 students in Bossier Parish head back to school.”

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