Cooperation between law enforcement and schools is an important step in increasing
school safety. The School Resource Officer (SRO) Program places law enforcement
officers (Deputy Sheriffs) in Louisa County Public Schools, in an effort to
create a safe and secure setting, with a focus on prevention and early intervention
activities for the community's youth. At its foundation, a successful program
is community based, reflecting a comprehensive community focus that integrates
law enforcement officers, including those assigned in the public schools,
with the existing network of resources in the community. The SROs are more
than law enforcement officers in the schools - the schools are unique communities
and the SROs fulfill three principle roles in those schools.
Law Enforcement Officer - First and foremost, SROs serve as law enforcement
officers, whose primary purpose is to "keep the peace" so that students can
focus on learning. SROs have the authority and duty to handle crimes and make
arrests, when necessary. If appropriate, alternatives to prosecution may include
counseling, deferment and/or school administrative action.
Community Liaison and Problem Solver - SROs serve as counselors who provide
guidance to students and act as a link to support services both inside and
outside the school environment. The SRO is aware of community resources and
contacts that can be helpful in solving many problems. Some of these community
resources include mental health services, substance abuse assessment and treatment
providers, child protective services, runaway shelters, domestic violence
services, and family counseling agencies.
Law-related Educator - Law-related education is designed to teach students
the fundamentals and skills needed to become responsible citizens. Law-related
education teaches social competence, problem-solving skills (making good choices
for the future), self-esteem, and reinforces high expectations for youth and
positive peer norms. The cornerstone of law-related education is the Louisa
County Sheriff's Office Learn And Win (LAW) program. The LAW program is provided
to students in grades five through twelve.
In addition to the three principle purposes, SROs serve as positive role models
for many youth who may not be exposed to such role models in today's society.
Some ways the SRO acts as a positive role model include: setting limits by
being clear about what is acceptable and unacceptable; setting an example;
being honest; being consistent with students, staff and parents; encouraging
responsibility; and showing respect for students.
It is the policy of the Louisa County Sheriff's Office to endorse and support
through staffing the creation of positive interaction between law enforcement
and the school community. This endeavor is a partnership between education
and law enforcement, which supports a collaborative, problem solving approach
to issues of crime and violence in schools.
Objectives of the SRO Program include:
Foster an atmosphere of safety through the enforcement of criminal and
traffic laws, and to provide the timely sharing of pertinent crime-related
information between school and law enforcement personnel.
- Promote effective communication between the Sheriff's Office and administrators,
teachers, staff, parents, and youth of the school community.
- Provide instruction for classes concerning the criminal justice system,
law enforcement, and public safety.
- Assist in intervention projects such as drug prevention, including the
Learn and Win (LAW) program and "at-risk" youth projects.
- Cultivate positive relationships with students, strengthening each students
understanding of good citizenship and accountability for his/her actions,
and to allow SROs to serve as mediators for law enforcement/school-related
- Promote citizen awareness of law enforcement efforts, to assure the
peaceful operation of school-related programs, and to build support with
- Adhere to the reporting requirements in Virginia law, specifically as
outlined in Virginia Code 22.1-279.3:1(D).
- Provide assessment of schools and early identification of high risk
or criminal activity on school properties.
- Coordinate student activities that promote a safe school environment,
and to serve as liaisons between schools and law enforcement.
- Serve as a resource for violence reduction and avoidance for students.