A government task force out of Jefferson City is calling for school districts to put a police officer in each school, if they can afford it.
The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department and the St. Joseph Police Department both employ school resource officers, depending on the jurisdiction.
Sheriff’s deputy Brandon Cabrera said the job of an in-school officer is often misunderstood.
“As far as SRO’s, we don’t deal with discipline,” Cabrera said. “The school districts have their own rules and policies that they administer if they see fit.”
Cabrera added that his main job is to provide peace of mind for kids and their parents.
“Our main concern is preservation of life and safety,” he said. “But we also uphold the law as law enforcement officers.”
“We show up before the kids arrive, and we leave after the kids leave,” Cabrera said. “We also conduct security checks around the building.”
Rather than issuing citations or arrests, Cabrera said he tries to forge relationships with the students and mentor them through tough times.
“What’s nice is we get to take a little more time and walk through with them,” he said. “Whether it would be a criminal (matter) or a mentorship, we have that time and walk beside these children.”
When school is out, Cabrera said he works in the road patrol division of the department.
The task force, spearheaded by Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, was assigned to find safety solutions in schools.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Missouri state government has $300,000 to spend in that arena. The report did not mention arming teachers as an option.
Cabrera said school resource officers are a good option, because they have some medical training and access to other first responders.
Cabrera said school resource officers in Missouri are required to complete at least 40 hours of specific resource officer training. He also said he attends continuing education classes and events throughout the year.