Harold McCormick experiences delay in incorporating new school resource officer

Published 8:15 am Monday, August 19, 2019

While Harold McCormick Elementary School students begin their new school year, the administration works to incorporate its new school resource officer. A series of delays however, is going to make the process slightly more complicated.

Principal Eric Wampler said they have received a lot of positive feedback about the new addition when it was announced.

“These guys give me info every day,” Wampler said.

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Unfortunately, their new SRO is currently unable to change his shift. Sgt. Douglas Combs said the new SRO is currently on patrol duty and cannot leave until his replacements are trained.

“After that, he will take paternity leave for about four weeks,” Combs said.

In the meantime, he said the city police department officials are taking turns working with the school. Even Chief Jason Shaw made an appearance one day.

“This is new for us,” Combs said. “This is my first time supervising SROs.”

He said once the planned SRO takes up the mantle, Combs will be his supervisor.

“One of our big advantages is we do not use police as fear tactics,” Wampler said. “They are here to be protectors.”

He said the feedback towards the addition has been extremely positive.

This will be the first year SROs station in city elementary schools, thanks to a new grant the police department received.

Wampler said their presence will have a greater impact on the student body than just the students’ safety, but rather a longer-term effort to change students’ perceptions towards law enforcement in general.

“This is going to be a bigger impact on our students,” he said. “This will help change their mindset.”

For many children, the sight of an armed officer of the law might be intimidating, but the school and police are looking to change that perception by creating bonds with the student body through their SROs.

“Often, children just see the negative,” Combs said.

Wampler said SROs are not there to run errands; they are a valuable resource who add to the schools rather than take anything away.

“This is a priority,” Combs said about the school system. “We believe in it 100 percent.”