Resource Officers have a vital role in school safety

School Resource Officers (left) Josh Frederoski and Tyler Wagner play guard the pin Thursday at Warren Area Elementary Center.

Warren County Sheriff’s Deputies Tyler Wagner and Josh Frederoski had to go to training before they could go to school.

Wagner and Frederoski are the school resource officers (SROs) in Warren County School District.

School resource officers have some pretty serious responsibilities.

They generally help keep schools safe from problems inside and out. “That’s our number one goal,” Frederoski said. “We don’t want the parents or the children to fear” for their safety.

They are deterrents to, and can address misbehavior — “We take everything seriously — harassment, bullying, cyber-bullying,” Wagner said — and are able to respond to serious threats. They can file charges.

They act as counselors at times. “We act as another arm of the school for guidance for any issue that they may be having in or out of school,” Frederoski said. “The younger kids are more receptive to us.”

They can be educators — stepping into classrooms when they are asked to share their expertise.

But, one of their major day-to-day tasks is simply to make students more comfortable around law enforcement officers.

A day at a school might start in the parking lot, making sure students are being safe as they move from cars and buses to the school and making sure the motorists are being safe, too.

Some days, “they get to see us when they’re walking through the door,” Frederoski said.

It could be any school. The SROs spend time at every district building.

There is no set schedule. Sometimes, a problem at a school requires the presence of the SRO. “The principals have our cell phone numbers,” Wagner said. “They call and say, ‘We had this happen. Can you swing in tomorrow?'”

“There’s always an SRO available,” Wagner said. “We’re contracted out by the school district through the sheriff’s office.”

In order to serve as SROs, the deputies had to attend the five-day basic National Association of School Resource Officer training. “It’s one of the best trainings I’ve been to,” Wagner said.

Frederoski was the first SRO in the district. After a few weeks, Sheriff Ken Klakamp asked Wagner if he would like to serve in the same capacity and the two now split time in the district.

Both of the county officers will be taking the three-day advanced course which gives them a broader basis of training and knowledge with which to handle situations.

“We want to get the word out,” Wagner said. “We’re here.”

It’s not all enforcement and tracking down problems. Helping young people be comfortable around law enforcement can be fun.

“The elementary kids love us,” Wagner said. “It’s a blast.”

On Thursday, the SROs dropped in on a gym class at Warren Area Elementary Center. They joined the dodgeball-like game of guard the pin and were immediately welcomed as full participants.

That’s not an every-day experience, but it’s high on their list.

The officers are looking forward to some other coming events this year, including mock DUI crashes, conducting sample standard field sobriety tests on students, and even playing basketball.

“It’s a collaboration with all the entities,” Frederoski said. “We’re working with the staff to make sure everything runs smoothly inside the school and outside the school.”