BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – The Bedford County Sheriff’s Office is taking a major step to make sure students are safe.
Sheriff Mike Miller says their school resource officer [SRO] positions are filled, but thanks to a grant through Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services, they can hire 14 more officers.
“We were very surprised,” said Miller.
That’s because the department applied for the positions, then was shocked to hear back within two weeks — and that all 14 jobs were approved.
“Did we expect to do it this quick? No,” said Miller.
He says the approval fulfills a goal to have an SRO in every school full-time.
“We need to make sure that we’re doing everything possible to protect all of our children,” said Miller.
Dr. Marc Bergin, Bedford County Public Schools superintendent, says SROs are currently assigned to the county’s six secondary schools, but they regularly patrol the other 14 sites — which allows law enforcement to be present in every school every day.
The grant ensures an SRO is assigned to a particular school.
“The more [an officer is] in a school, consistently every day, [they] recognize patterns and routines within that school; and you’re someone that we come to rely upon. You’re always visible, you’re always with us,” said Bergin.
Miller says that will also build trust with younger students.
“To have that relationship at an early age is a tremendous help and a tremendous asset to this whole county,” said Miller.
Grant funding would run out by 2027.
Bergin says school and county leaders will soon discuss ways on keeping SROs beyond that school year.
“We are committed to finding the funding solutions to keep these SRO officers in our schools indefinitely,” said Bergin.