The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

July 3, 2013

School safety talked at roundtable discussion

— Limestone County Schools hosted a law enforcement roundtable Tuesday to discuss ways to improve school safety.

Limestone Superintendent Tom Sisk chaired the roundtable, which also included seven representatives from the Sheriff’s Office, three Central Office safety team members and two Madison City police officers.

SRO update

Capt. Fred Sloss, who supervises the Limestone school resource officer program, said after the meeting that the Sheriff’s Department has already interviewed SRO candidates after receiving about 20 applications.

The new part-time officers will share the assignment of patrolling the six K-6 campuses in Limestone that previously did not have an SRO. The six high schools in Limestone and the Career Technical Center already have full-time SROs, including four who attended Tuesday’s roundtable.

The Sheriff’s Department plans to hold its annual active-shooter training exercise before the school year begins in August. In the past, Sloss said the department previously trained at Redstone Arsenal and other locations outside the county. This year the department is looking into the possibility using the closed Belle Mina school building as its training site.

SRO roles

Steve Croley, a Limestone SRO and a member of the department’s Special Response Team, said a school resource officer has to be multi-faceted, in addition to providing day-to-day protecting and during emergencies.

“A lot of people look at us as a hired gun, but we have roles other than stopping a school shooter,” Croley said during the meeting.

Croley said his duties include distributing parking permits, answering questions about Fourth Amendment search-and-seizure rights and forensic science and teaching a hunting safety class for the Agri-Science Department.

Jason Sims, a Madison City policeman assigned to Bob Jones High School, said the most important role of an SRO is to educate teachers and students about school safety, including something as simple as keeping entry points closed.

“We have to educate both faculty and students about the importance of keeping doors closed,” said Sims, who is also the education coordinator for The Alabama Association of School Resource Officers. “The important thing is (safety) education.”

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