Editorial: School resource officer approach is proactive one

It started before Columbine through in idea from former Sheriff Terry Ashe. And though the plan of offering school resource officers as protection for our children has seen its share of ups and downs over the years, it remains a proactive vision.
Jan 11, 2013

It started before Columbine through in idea from former Sheriff Terry Ashe. And though the plan of offering school resource officers as protection for our children has seen its share of ups and downs over the years, it remains a proactive vision.
Now, in light of a school massacre in Newtown, Conn., the Tennessee General Assembly will soon debate – among other possible solutions – plans to mandate an SRO be assigned to each school in the state. That’s quite the opposite, reactive approach that may very well be the one needed to see Ashe’s vision through in Wilson County.
Fortunately, and as SRO division Capt. Gary Keith said Thursday, Wilson County is ahead of the curve when it comes to a successful SRO program.
“Sheriff Ashe brought it here,” Keith said. “Thank goodness for that.”
Those who have followed Ashe’s lead, including those responsible for adding SROs at Lebanon elementary schools beginning Wednesday, should be applauded for continuing this work.
It’s a fact SROs provide much more than safety and security to students.
“When you think of an SRO, you might just think of an armed guard at the school, but there’s so much more,” Keith said. “They are a counselor, a person the children can look up to, a leader. They have to work with the courts on juvenile cases. It goes far beyond just a person walking around the school with a gun.”
There’s little doubt students today need the presence of the role model Keith describes in their lives. An SRO’s impact on a student may someday be proven to be a far greater deterrant to a school shooting than disarming a gunman or stopping an incident in progress.
That relationship early on might just be all a troubled student needs to think twice before picking up a gun.
And that’s what we call a proactive approach.

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