ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. (WECT) – Emereau Bladen Charter School opened five years ago and just this week, they got their first School Resource Officer.
“When our board met for planning last spring and [was] doing our budget analysis for the year, they felt it was important that safety was important as well. We have over 600 students enrolled currently, and we know that we are continuing to grow, and we felt like, with our location, it would be nice to have a SRO on campus just to be here everyday along with our staff and our students,” said Emereau Bladen Executive Director Elizabeth Cole.
Deputy Cedric Jacobs is the extra level of protection that was added to Emereau this year.
“The main thing is officer presence, make sure I’m visible, make sure the kids know what I’m here for,” said Jacobs.
He’s working to keep the students, faculty, and staff safe at the school, while also giving kids a chance to have a positive interaction with law enforcement. “Just to show them that we are here to actually help you,” said Jacobs.
Emereau doesn’t operate under Bladen County Schools, so they worked directly with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office to add the SRO on campus. Funding for the SRO was approved Monday night by Bladen County Commissioners.
Right now, Bladen County only has six SROs for its 13 public schools, meaning each SRO patrols two or three schools each day.
“Really and truly in today’s world, you do need one in every school,” said Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker. “Now that’s not my decision. If it was up to me I would have it — you know, the board of education funds those positions, and then they go before the county commissioners and they work it out with them.”
More recently parents have been raising questions about adding SROs to schools, and Sheriff McVicker believes it’s an important asset to each campus, but it’s not his decision to make.
“If the public gets behind it, if the parents are behind it, go to board of education meetings, maybe something will happen,” said Sheriff McVicker.
Jacobs also added that SROs are there for more than just the safety standpoint. “I want to build a relationship with these kids, you never know what a kid is going through, I know I went through stuff as a kid, and having that adult figure outside of home, kids take that to heart,” said Jacobs.
“It makes you feel safe, it makes you feel like you’ve got someone you can rely on in the event of an emergency that is right here,” said Cole.
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