Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office working to fill open SRO positions
ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - One of the biggest challenges school systems have faced over the summer is filling open positions. That’s no different in Roanoke County, where they expected to have six new school resource officers before the school year started last week.
“You have to put somebody there that’s experienced but you also have to put somebody there with certain types of training and there’s just not a huge job market for that right now,” said Brent Hudson, vice-chairman of the Roanoke County School Board, at the August 11 meeting.
In June, $180,000 was appropriated by the Roanoke County School Board to pave the way for six new SROs. Though the SRO program is led by the Roanoke County Police Department, the money was appropriated for the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office to fill the positions specifically in elementary schools.
“We started advertising at that point and so far we’ve onboarded about three people,” said Capt. Chad Beheler, with the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office.
Demand for school resource officers is one of the challenges, but it’s also about finding people with the right training and experience.
“We don’t want anybody just in the schools. What’s in the schools is obviously the most important thing in Roanoke County,” said Beheler.
Another challenge is that these SRO roles are part-time.
“We are not in a position where we can reassign full-time deputies to the schools because that is a part-time position,” said Beheler.
At this time RCSO has four SROs covering the 16 elementary schools, which is double what they had last school year. They also have one SRO at William Byrd Middle School.
“Once we hire two more, that will come down even more and our ultimate goal is to have enough where we can cover eight schools and the police department has a similar plan,” Beheler.
The hope is to fill the three final SROs as soon as possible, with the focus on increasing school safety and connecting with students.
“Originally when Sheriff Orange wanted it, from the very beginning it was for the safety of the kids in the school. I just think those relationships are super important to build and build a trust between the community and the law enforcement we have here in Roanoke County,” said Beheler.
The Roanoke County School Board understands these positions aren’t going to be filled overnight.
“It should be noted that it’s not for a lack of organization and starting this very early on, it’s a process and it takes time,” said Cheryl Facciani, a member of the school board, at the August 11 meeting.
And they guarantee they are doing all they can to make sure students are safe.
“I do believe, while we can’t guarantee our students’ safety daily, we’ve taken as many steps as possible to make sure they are safe,” said David Linden, chairman of the school board, at the August 11 meeting.
If you are interested in becoming an SRO for Roanoke County, you can find RCSO’s page and contact information here.
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