SROs protect schools, provide positive influence for students

Lee County Sheriff's Office partners with the school district to provide SROs on campuses

GUNTOWN, Miss. (WCBI) – As we celebrate National Police Week, it’s an opportunity to highlight those who protect and serve. Those officers on school campuses are protecting our most valuable asset, our children.

Whether he is sitting with students during lunch, walking the halls, or helping with cafeteria cleanup, Lee County Deputy Matthew Williams is right at home on the Guntown Middle School campus.

“Try to bridge the gap between law enforcement and these kids now,” Williams said.

Williams has been a school resource officer, or SRO, at Guntown for four years. He worked in patrol, investigations, and administration before coming to Lee County as an SRO. Williams said his job gives him opportunities to get to know students and give parents peace of mind.

“Instead of the kids just seeing me patrolling and writing tickets, they get to see me on their school campus, protecting them, in case anything bad should ever happen. The parents know someone is here,” Williams said.

Principal Karen Letson said Deputy Williams not only keeps the campus safe but is also a positive role model and friend to students and staff.

“He does our DARE program with seventh grade in history classes, but even before that he’s out in break time with them, in car rider line, talks to them in classes, tries to build great rapport with them to give them someone they can talk to about any need they have,” Letson said.

“A lot of them will come to me, if they’re having problems, either at home or at school, normally they wouldn’t call on law enforcement for anything but they know they can come to me and trust me with any information they might have,” Williams said.

“The negative impact law enforcement has seen in the last few years, being bad people and people you can’t trust and people who are out there to hurt you, it’s very important at a young age that individuals know that’s not the truth about law enforcement. They’re good people, they’re your protector, stand between good and evil and we need to build a rapport with them and we’re able to do that in these school settings,” said Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson.

SROs don’t get to take the summer off. They help with DARE camp next month, then they are on regular patrol until school starts in early August and they’re back on their campuses.

SROs must be certified law officers in Mississippi.  They also have additional training required for the job.

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