Lamar County School District to add resource officer

By BUSTER WOLFE,

The Lamar County School District is looking to hire school resource officers to bring the force up to full strength and to expand to Purvis Lower Elementary School, Superintendent Tess Smith said.

“We are trying to add an officer to our force that would cover Purvis Lower Elementary School,” she said. “Now, basically we have an officer at the Alternative School. Steve (Rosser, Director of Public Safety) works out of this office and another officer covers the Purvis campuses. Sometimes, they have to be pulled away, so we just want one assigned to the Lower Elementary.”

The district also has two current openings on its 11-person force, Smith said.

“We are trying desperately to fill them,” she said. “Hopefully, we can have a full force next year.”

Smith said the work is hard, but it is rewarding.

“It gets hectic during key times of the year, but they work so very hard,” she said. “They are part of the family and we include them in everything. I just don’t know. It’s like before we had the nurses – I don’t know what we did without the officers. Think about the traffic; they stand out there if it’s flooding or it’s 110 degrees, they are out there.”

School Resource Officers have a different way to look at their surroundings, Smith said.

“We approach everything from an educator standpoint,” she said. “They approach it, of course, from a safety standpoint. Sometimes, we don’t agree and they have to kind of work around us.”

The SROs also have a different perspective.

“They anticipate different things that we don’t,” Smith said. “We’re all about the classrooms, the buses or the cafeteria, and they are all about the other stuff. We need that view, that perspective; we can’t do it ourselves. I am just so thankful that they are there. They not only have our back, but they are looking out for us and they are looking forward and see things that we wouldn’t anticipate.

“We drill a lot in this district and you have to document that for the state. It is critically important and if we’re not careful, we’ll do the same drill at the same time. They’ll come in and tell us we need to change.”

The officers are professionally trained law enforcement personnel who also have special instruction in school situations.

“When they come to us after being on the streets, they have to go through a period of adjustment, especially when you are dealing with kids,” Smith said. “We have some of the best officers and they help us take care of the whole child. A lot of times, officers are seen in a negative light in some situations. Our officers work actively to overcome that with students, beginning with our kindergartners.”

Smith said the officers have been out front especially in the past school year.

“This year like no other, they worked ballgames and they worked a lot of extra hours,” she said. “But, this year they have been called on after hours, with issues like our suicide and everything. Anytime we receive a tip, they follow it; they have gone at night. They go above and beyond.”

The officers are charged with the safety of almost 10,000 children every day and also are responsible for law-related education, student mentoring and crisis planning.

Applicants must be at least 23 years old, be a U.S. citizen and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Applicants must also have good moral character with no felony convictions, have at least three years of law enforcement experience and be certified, or eligible for certification, under Board on Law Enforcement Standards and Training in Mississippi.

Officers who are accepted for the position will undergo a week-long training with other school resource officers and will also be required to complete a basic course with the Mississippi Department of Education’s Division of School Safety.

Anyone wanting more information can contact Police Chief Steve Rosser at (601) 794-1030 or by email at steve.rosser@lamark12.org.

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