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IRMO, SC – Many employment sectors are struggling to hire people right now, and School Resource Officers, or SROs, are no different.
Schools across the country are struggling to find people to protect students. There were not enough deputies to cover four schools in Lexington-Richland School District 5 in South Carolina, so the district uses a private security company to compensate for this.
“We recognize they don’t have the full training of an SRO, but I’d rather have armed security there than no one there,” said district superintendent Dr. Akil Ross.
Why isn’t private security as ideal as SROs? Superintendent Ross says ORS goes through special training work with children.
“How to deal with stress, how to deal with socio-emotional issues. And working with these students,” Ross said.
School districts in states like Oregon, New Mexico, Tennessee and Georgia reported ORS shortages at some point this year. Local law enforcement, in general, finds it difficult to hire new officers. The National Association of School Resource Officers says local agencies are where most ORS comes from.
“These are veteran officers who volunteer for these assignments. Just as an officer would volunteer for a detective assignment,” said NASRO executive director Mo Canady, who spent 12 years overseeing an SRO program in Alabama.
Canady calls this hiring crisis unprecedented. He encourages everything Current SRO consider talking to their colleagues.
“SROs can be among the best recruiters of fellow officers,” he said.
Canady says the police are not seen in a positive light, which could reduce their numbers. Superintendent Ross is prepared to deal with long-term ORS shortages.
“If I have to go with private security, if I have to go with soldiers, I want to do whatever it takes,” Ross said.
Ross says the district has committed to spending millions of dollars strengthening its campuses, which may mean reinforcing entrances and exits and installing metal detectors.