FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – While the investigation continues into a Richland County School Resource Officer, News13 wanted to take a closer look at school resource officers in the Pee Dee.
For 23 years, Sergeant Vince Hanna has been deputy with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office and has worn the hat of SRO officer for 15 years.
“I wanted to help out young individuals. Young males and young females that were going the wrong way. The role of an SRO officer is to enforce state laws and county ordinance, and to ensure the safety of the staff and students,” Hanna stated.
According to Sgt. Hanna, most schools in the county don’t open unless an SRO is present.
“They request an SRO in every high school. We have one in every high school in Florence County,” he explained.
Currently, there are 10 school recourse officers on staff contracted by each district with jurisdiction statewide.
For those wanting to be an SRO, first you have to be a class one officer and then to go to the academy in Columbia for 10 weeks. That training is then followed by an additional two weeks specialized instruction course for school recourse officers.
“It is a part of your character. When we hire an SRO, the captain looks for someone that has patience. If they are in school, we treat them like children, like they are somebody’s child and we deal with them accordingly. We don’t treat them like they are a criminal on the street,” Hanna said.
In 2014, the Florence County Sheriff Office’s program received national recognition. They want to reiterate that an officer does not enforce school policy, but simply the law.