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The Iredell County Sheriff's Office is assigning school resource officers to elementary schools. From left are Deputy Dallas Hicks, Deputy Ben Hardy, Deputy Jamie Welborn, Deputy Brian Burns and Sheriff Darren Campbell. Not picture is Deputy Jacob Lemley. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE IREDELL COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

I am excited to announce the news about seven new elementary School Resource Officers (SRO), a first for Iredell County and the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office. These SROs will be assigned to schools throughout Iredell.

For years, securing and keeping our schools safe has been a main priority for me, and the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office. Our agency has conducted approximately 40,000 security checks at our elementary schools, excluding middle and high schools which have an assigned SRO, since 2014.

Our deputies, detectives, supervisors, and other sheriff’s office staff conduct security checks in the schools, where they meet and interact with staff members, teachers and students. By doing these checks, our deputies are learning the layouts of these schools and are more knowledgeable of the facilities. In the event we have to respond to an incident at the school, they are better equipped to immediately address the situation. These SROs will carry this objective to a higher level in developing relationships with children at a young age which will directly influence decisions made later in life.

Last school year, through the use of Asset Forfeiture Funds, also known as drug dealer’s money, we purchased mobile ballistic shields for all of our elementary schools. Since the purchase, all of these ballistic shields were placed in all of our elementary schools. The shields are utilized by our SROs and staff members to help shield and protect our children in an active shooter incident. I am extremely proud we are able to use these funds for items such as these.

The sheriff’s office already has one deputy and canine dedicated to the elementary schools to have a presence at these locations. We use canine “Tito” to form relationships with our students, letting them know we are here to help them and keep them safe.

Our Mobile Classroom comes to the schools where we are able to show the students examples of illegal drugs and their effects on a person’s body.We display examples of gang-related items as we talk about the dangers of gang affiliation. There are also areas in this unit dedicated to bullying and domestic violence and ways to prevent these activities.

As you can see by these examples, school safety is a huge concern for our agency. The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office takes pride in serving our citizens and looks forward to serving our 14 elementary schools in the county. We will continue to maintain the SRO’s in our middle and high schools. Most of the new SRO’s who will be walking the halls of our elementary schools, come to us as experienced and veteran law enforcement officers, most of which are already certified School Resource Officers.

The new SRO’s will be placed geographically across our county so they can serve our elementary schools in the most efficient way possible. By grouping these School Resource Officers, they will become familiar with the people in the areas they serve. With the new positions, our call response times will be much quicker. Our deputies will likely be on scene or close to the school in the event there are threats or other incidents that need our deputies’ response. This an extra layer of protection for our schools that we have never had.

I have heard from the community, and have listened to their concerns about making our elementary schools safer, I feel this is a huge step in answering these concerns.

If you have additional questions about these new SRO’s or have any other law enforcement questions, please call me at 704-878-3180 or email me at decampbell@co.iredell.nc.us.

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