AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – During a 5-day extensive training, School Safety Officers in Richmond County prepared for another school year.
Richmond County’s Board of Education Public Safety Department oversees more than 32,000 students in 56 schools.
During the week-long course officers reviewed their roles of assisting school Administrators by maintaining order.
As kids prepare to hit the books, parents can rest assured knowing the safety of their children is in good hands.
As the 10th largest School District in Georgia, all School Safety Officers that work in the Richmond County School System receive specific training.
“How to conduct an interview with a child. How to interrogate a child, under what circumstances that can be done.” R.C.B.O.E. Public Safety Department Chief Alfonzo Williams told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “Searches, student privacy… We learn what Administrators are allowed to do versus what an officer is allowed to do.”
Every summer School Safety Officers complete training in different areas including use of force, body cameras in schools and new laws that apply to their scope of work.
This is a positive reinforcement of their child’s safety for parents like Gregory Mccloskey.
“I like the fact that they are putting more training in effect,” Mccloskey told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “I would be happier if they get into de-escalation of force or even some nonlethal options for the officers.”
In the past officers have also discussed methods to avoid community issues from spilling into schools and disrupting learning, but with the relationship between police and their communities in the spotlight its hard topic to avoid.
“The biggest thing talked about this time that we didn’t have to deal with, this time last year, was the appearance that there’s a nation-wide assault on police officers,” the Public Safety Department Chief said.
Also new this year, Chief Williams says the state has left it to the discretion of each school district to decide how long to keep body camera footage.
With an average of 1-2 officers per school, Williams is confident his department is ready for a new school year. He says he’s also hopeful officers can be role models for students and begin bridging the gap between law enforcement and the community.
“We feel that we are in a position to help teach values, respect, and morality to these students,” he said.
Chief Williams says during the course they looked at F.B.I. statistics that show assaults on police officers are down significantly.