Here in Northwest Arkansas, how much protection is visible on schools grounds in keeping our kids safe?
The Springdale Police Department says it’s school district has the largest number of school resource officers in our region. According to Springdale Police, there are 18 SRO’s in the Springdale school district, each of the high schools have at least one.
The Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville school districts all have SRO’s.
In Springdale, the school resource officers are police officers. Springdale Police tell us the school district pays for 10 of the SRO’s and eight are payed for through a grant. The program is overseen by two sergeants and a lieutenant. Lieutenant Jeff Taylor with SPD says having an SRO on campus cut down on response time to an emergency. He says, “What people don’t sometimes realize is when there’s an officer in the school that means we’re not having to pull an officer off the street to go deal with an issue in the school because we’re there already.” Taylor adds, the SRO’s undergo specific training, making them prepared to work in a school environment.
The SRO’s get to know the students, teach classes, and even lead drills. Rick Schaeffer with Springdale Schools says Arkansas is one of the states that has a mandatory active shooter drill. He says, “We do those once a semester. You have tornado drills a little more often than that, you have fire drills a little bit more often than that, but we do have – once a semester – we do have a live shooter drill, so all of our schools practice that at least twice during the school year.”
Schaeffer adds students and SRO’s build a relationship and the enhanced communication can even help prevent bad things from happening.
With the largest number of SRO’s in Northwest Arkansas, Springdale PD say the district’s SRO program is not looking to add any more officers at this time.