Making lesson plans and caring for special education students were two of the topics new Rutherford County Sheriff’s School Resource Officer Matt Powell learned about during a week-long training for SROs.
He now envisions delivering a message to “bright-eyed kindergarteners” and preparing himself to serve as a law enforcement officer who counsels and teaches classes at Cedar Grove Elementary School this academic year.
“I have just the idea even the simplest message will save a life or change the image of law enforcement or even the person they’ll grow up to be,” SRO Powell said, adding, “I’m ready to go.”
SRO Powell was among 26 other law enforcement officers from Rutherford, Cannon and Shelby County Sheriff’s Offices, Indiana and Ohio who completed the 40-hour class last week taught by Rutherford County Sheriff’s SRO Sgt. Bill West and SRO Kerry Nelson, who are both national instructors for the National Association of School Resource Officers.
Sgt. West said NASRO believes in the concept of SROs serving as teacher, counselor and law enforcement officer.
The SRO program was launched 20 years ago as a partnership between Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office and Rutherford County Schools . Thanks to funding by Rutherford County Commission, this is the first year every county school will be staffed by a fulltime SRO.
As a former SRO, Sheriff Robert Arnold said he believes in the triad approach of teacher, counselor and cop, plus serving as a mentor to students.
“Having an SRO in every school is very important to the community for the safety of our children of Rutherford County ,” Sheriff Arnold said. “It has been something the citizens have requested for a long time and we are happy to provide the trained SROs.”
Topics covered included the foundations of school-based policing, the learning process, effective presentations, effective communications in schools, drugs, alcohol and addictive behavior, special education, school law, child abuse, school safety, crime prevention and critical incident management.
SROs learned to write lesson plans and to handle advisory sessions dealing with adolescent and family issues.
“They gained the knowledge to network with each other,” Sgt. West said.
SRO Powell said both Sgt. West and SRO Nelson gave unique and informative classes. He became familiar with the issues of student privacy, school safety and the detail schools use in caring for special education students.
“It’s definitely prepared me well,” Powell said.
Lisa Marchesoni, Public information officer - Rutherford County Sheriff's Office