Baldwin County is one of the first in the state to initiate a School Resource Officer program that places an officer on every campus in the county. This proactive approach has paid dividends beyond what you might expect.
The latest example of the impact a trained School Resource Officer can have, became evident recently when a child went to their SRO and revealed bruising on their body. What started as a child abuse investigation ended with an arrest and sexual abuse charges going back several years. Baldwin County Sheriff, Huey “Hoss” Mack said it’s thanks to trust that’s built with students that helps bring cases like this to the surface.
“Once they build that relationship, then the kids are comfortable talking to the SRO, a lot more information flows,” Mack explained.
With 45 campuses and more than 30,000 students to protect, the job of an SRO goes beyond patrolling hallways and parking lots. Officers get to know the students and are trained to listen and pick up on problems that may be going on at home. Sheriff Mack credits multiple off-campus arrests to his SROs, including child neglect or abuse, sexual abuse, drug cases and more.
“There was a case on the eastern shore that came about. We actually solved an armed robbery where there were shots fired by an individual. The information that led to that arrest came through a student, through one of our SROs,” Mack said. “We’ve had cases of domestic violence where we’ve got involved in that and we’ve even had cases where an individual was going to bring a gun on campus. We’ve had a couple of those instances.”
The county’s SRO program came about through a partnership between the County Commission, the Sheriff’s Office and each municipality throughout the county. Police officers in some of those municipalities are seeing the same affect.
“We’ve had one case that was pretty prominent, a neglect case the School Resource Officers identified and was followed up on with the detective division and we got some kids the help that they needed so yeah, we’re seeing the effect. We’re seeing the effect every day,” said Capt. Jud Beedy with Daphne Police.
Investigators said these are just a few examples there of how the relationships School Resource Officers are developing with students are working to make our community safer as a whole.