Columbia County School District Increases Resource Officer Positions

COLUMBIA COUNTY. (WRDW/WAGT) – The Columbia County School District is taking steps to keep your students safe this school year.

They created a police force for their school resource officers.

The district hired more police officers before the first day of school, and they say their new officers are qualified with plenty of experience.

As of 2018, the district has at least one resource officer for every school in the county. With the need for more security, they decided to add more.

We spoke with the Columbia County School District Force Captain to understand why they need more officers.

They go to every school in the district, with two in each high school. A group of 36 school resource officers bring together 700 years of law enforcement experience, allowing them to make a difference at the start of this school year.

“We are a more full-service police station than in the past,” Capt. Gary Owens said.

Previously, the primary function of the District Police was more to report and assist the Sheriff’s Office, but they now take a more active role in handling investigations.

Since the summer, it’s been anything but a break for them.

“We had to start from scratch, starting with the SOP, making sure everything was in place, having meetings with the sheriff’s office, with the police chiefs to make sure we are ready for this challenge” , did he declare.

One challenge they take on is to help break the stigma surrounding police officers and help build a relationship between police officers and children in the community.

“We want to be in contact with the students, to know them on a daily basis, to know their names, so if there is something wrong, we can say ‘Hey how are you?’ and they will feel comfortable,” Owens said.

Although it is now a self-sufficient agency, there is always backup when needed.

“We still have the sheriff’s office and local police departments that we’re going to engage with and be community partners with and we have to work together,” he said.

They have previously worked together to practice different emergency scenarios, such as active shooters.

“Oriented towards this incident, we pray that this never happens in our schools, but we want to be ready, and we are ready, and we have trained to ensure that our officers are competent, able and willing to take this . challenge,” he said.

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