A School Resource Officer (SRO) is a full time police officer, who’s in classrooms interacting with students daily. A Special Patrol Officers (SPO), is part time, and their primary job is to provide safety and security to the staff and students. Now that County officials are funding half the cost for SPO’s, school districts like Camden are bringing them in.
Dr. Ravo Root is the Superintendent of the Camden School District. "It’s sad to say that we’re at a point in time that we need that, but I do feel that is a need." He tells us what it means for the County to pick up half the cost of the SPO’s. "If we didn’t have that support it would be difficult to impossible to bring these officers into our school district."
Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol talked about why he thinks it’s important to have an armed officer at every school.
"School shootings, typically they’re over in 4 or 5 minutes, so again like I said that’s the quickest way to diffuse that situation is to have someone who’s there armed to confront an active shooter."
Dr. Root says the SPO’s have been welcomed by parents, staff, and students. He also thinks it’s a good investment even for rural schools like Camden. "There is no definite pattern and you know we’re vulnerable. We’re vulnerable I think more so without that support."
Stephen Campbell is the SPO at Camden, and although he spends most of his time maintaining the security of the schools, he says the students occasionally let him know how they feel about having him there.
"It’s a great, positive experience. They’ve all been great. They’ll high five me, say good morning, every couple kids hug you, it’s great. It’s great."
The safety and security of students is top priority at every school even if they can’t afford an SRO, but the sheriff does expect to have an SPO in every school district in the county by as early as next year.