SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Currently, 11 new Commissioned School Security Officers (CSSO) are trained up and working at Springdale Public Schools.
One of the new security officers is John Farrell, who is assigned to Jones Elementary. He said he thought the role of protecting the community’s kids was worth coming out of retirement for.
Security Officer Farrell is a dad and a new grandpa, who said he knew he had to do something to help keep kids safe after the recent events in Uvalde.
“Each one of these incidences, as horrible as they were, have been a learning experience for a lot of folks and we’re taking what we’ve learned, and we’re putting it into an approach to make sure it never happens in Springdale,” said Farrell.
Farrell makes sure the building only has one entry point for visitors, and when he’s not stationed near it, he’s patrolling the school and making sure each classroom door is locked.
Damon Donnell is the Student Services Director for Springdale Public Schools and he said by the end of November, the district hopes to have an officer at each of its 31 buildings.
“We’re trying to keep our school, staff, and visitors safe. We all have the same purpose, safety and security of our campuses. We want all of us to be on the same page that way, so that we accomplish that goal,” said Donnell.
Donnell said the security officers will soon be armed, once they receive their ID from the Arkansas State Police. Soon CSSOs, like Farrell, will not only be an armed presence at the schools, but one of the first smiling faces to greet kids each morning.
“They look at us and they want to know everything about us. That’s important. That’s part of building your relationships. We tell them why we’re here. We expressed those concerns to them that we have for their safety,” said Farrell.
Farrell said their training is ongoing and covers a variety of topics. Such as how to best help kids on the autism spectrum, promote good mental health, and what to do in the case of an active shooter.
Farrell also said there are open positions for CSSOs at Springdale Public Schools and encourages those interested to apply, since he believes helping to protect the community’s kids is rewarding.