Thomasville BOE to discuss school resource officer expansion

(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
Updated: Mar. 22, 2018 at 11:16 PM EDT
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They said their job is to protect the kids, a priority that they take seriously everyday....
They said their job is to protect the kids, a priority that they take seriously everyday. (Source: WALB)

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Thomasville City Schools could be adding more school resource officers to the system.

"That's what I'm here for. I'm here to protect them," said Jabar Dunbar, SRO Thomasville PD.

This in the wake of another deadly school shooting in Maryland, and a national debate on how to best protect students from gun-toting attackers.

Thomasville Police Chief Troy Rich said protection starts with more boots on the ground.

He wants to add more resource officers at Thomasville City Schools.

This week Chief Rich approached the city council to see how much new officers would cost, and if it's even feasible.

City school officials say they are in the early stages of discussing the possibility of expanding the School Resource Officer Program. It still has to be discussed by the school board.

"You have to go into this job thinking, unfortunately, if it comes down to me and them, I might not get to go home, but they are going home," said Chris Baggett, SRO for Thomasville High.

Emotions are high as school resource officers in Thomasville report for duty every day, knowing school shootings are happening nationwide.

They said their job is to protect the kids, a priority that they take seriously every day.

"God forbid it ever happens here. Hopefully, it never does but you have to know you are there to protect the kids," said Baggett.

On average the SROs said they work about two or three cases a day, ranging from counseling a student to bullying or stolen cell phones.

To them, the cell phones are a new task to their job, with almost every student having some type of social media page or cell phone it allows students to communicate faster and during school hours.

"It's a big distraction. Kids are on social media and are doing things as far as criminal activity may cause some integrity issues within themselves," said Dunbar.

The plan discussed at the council workshop would put a school resource officer at every school in the city, even the scholars academy.

The police chief said they would need extra funding for equipment, vehicles, and the salary of the officer, but you can't put a price tag on a child's life. To these officers, it's invaluable.

The school superintendent released a statement Thursday:

The School Resource Officers are an invaluable asset to our students, faculty and parents. Chief Rich and I began exploring the possibility of adding additional officers. After the Governor has signed the FY19 budget, the Thomasville City Board of Education will begin the budgeting process whereby expanding the SRO program to include all campuses will potentially be considered. A discussion of this possibility will be on the agenda for next week's meeting.

School resource officers spend a lot of time investigating bullying.

Lieutenant David Kent with the Colquitt County Sheriff's Office, told the Moultrie Observer predators and cyberbullying are the biggest issues school children deal with.

He believes part of that comes from 24/7 access to social media.

Kent offered four pieces of advice to students to try to minimize being the victim of a bully or predator:

  • If a student is going to have any social media sites, ensure that their accounts have the highest level of security settings possible
  • Accept and add friend requests only from known friends and family members
  • Think before you post. Once something is posted on the Internet, it stays there, even after deleting content
  • Think about the legal consequences a student or parent can face once something has been posted

In addition, Kent also advises parents to:

  • Limit social media use and access times for kids
  • Monitor their use when they are online. Don’t let kids have unlimited access to the Internet
  • Encourage kids to be active, play outside and interact in activities with other children
  • Know the child’s login information for all accounts, whether it be for school use or social media, and to log in frequently, ensuring login information is accurate

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