ABILENE, Texas (KRBC)-As part of Texas Senate Bill 11 , which passed in May of 2019, school resource officers are required to go through specific training as a means of tightening security and creating an environment that promotes mental health.
At the Abilene Police Department training facility, the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) instructed an advanced course for on-campus interaction. A major facet of this training is teaching officers to become mentors for students.
APD Lt. Tony Lassetter referred to the role as a mentor as an element of the “Triad” the three hats SROs wear. These hats including police officer, guest speaker and mentor.
“So you want police officer that’s laid back, somebody that’s not going to be extremely tense, ” Lassetter said. “I mean he’s going to be somebody that can be approachable that can establish a relationship with these kids.”
Cody Brown is a school resource officer at Madison Middle School. He said everyday he acts as a de-facto counselor.
“There is a lot more to this job I ever knew,” said Brown. “I walk through the halls, I go to lunch. I sit down at the lunch table with the kids and just get to know them, let them know that I’m here for them.”
Ted Dau is an instructor for NASRO. He acknowledged that some parents may be weary of a police officer stationed on a school campus. Dau noted that, for this very reason, officers should create personal relationships across campus and be transparent with students and their parents.
“There are those in the community that feel that the only reason that school based police officers are in school is to simply arrest those kids a little bit earlier and get them involved in the prison system or the court system and that could not be farther from the truth,” said Dau.
Dau said the goal of training is to separate the uniform from the person.
“We as a school based police officer can go a little bit further and dig a little bit deeper and truly try to see what the’s the root of the problem and what can we do to get that out of your life so you don’t make poor choices.”