BY DARREN CAMPBELL
Psychologist Abraham Maslow described a hierarchy of needs common to all human beings. This hierarchy demonstrates that some basic needs must be met before children can focus on learning. According to Maslow, for our children to succeed in the classroom, specific needs such as physiological (hunger, thirst, comfort), belongingness, esteem, and safety must be met. As a member of the law enforcement community, I recognize, along with my fellow deputies, exactly how essential one’s safety is to their well-being. As parents, the safety of our children is paramount. Ensuring our children are safe creates an atmosphere conducive to learning, developing social skills, and exploring their environment.
When I set out to be your sheriff, I committed to and vowed to address the safety of our schools. The safety of our children, and those charged with caring for our children, is a top priority. As our children begin the 2021-22 school year this week, this marks the first time in the history of Iredell County that every school in Iredell-Statesville Schools has a dedicated School Resource Officer (SRO).
While SROs have long been in middle and high schools, an additional seven SROs were recently added, providing each elementary school its own dedicated SRO. This giant leap for school safety was achieved through a collaboration of the Sheriff’s Office, I-SS Superintendent Jeff James, the members of the Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education, the Iredell County Board of Commissioners, and the citizens of Iredell County. This goal would not have been achieved without the cooperation and support of each of these entities.
There can be no measure of the value of an SRO. Much of the SROs daily activities stretches far beyond their duty to maintain the safety of those entrusted to them. We often do not see the fist bumps in the hall, the children circled around as the SRO reads to them about stranger danger, the lunches shared with a child new to the school, and the dedication these SROs make to each of our children. I am a firm believer that positive first impressions lead to social cohesion. Quite simply, we want our children to trust law enforcement and view us as helpers and friends.
We know that those positive interactions serve us well as our children move through middle and high school. Because of relationships established with SROs, we have addressed bullying issues, drugs in our schools, weapons on campus, and suicidal ideations, based simply on relationships built with students throughout the years. The number of emails our office receives weekly concerning a positive interaction between these officers and children in the school system is amazing.
We consider the placement of these officers an investment in our future that will pay untold dividends. In addition to these relationships, SROs can often serve as resources for school administration in areas such as child custody orders and domestic violence issues. Each SRO receives extensive training in first aid, responding to medical emergencies, and can serve as a great addition to the training that school staff receives.
Not only are our SROs invaluable tools in each and every school, but our parents, grandparents, teachers, and students play a vital role as well. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, say something. Our goal is to create the safest environment possible for our most valued assets, our children.
If you have any additional questions about our School Resource Officers or any other law enforcement-related questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 704-878-3180.
Darren Campbell is the Iredell County sheriff.