The School Resource Officer (SRO) program operated by the Boone County Sheriff’s Office is one of the largest, if not the largest, in the state. Sheriff Mike Helmig started the program in 1999 by obtaining a COPS IN SCHOOLS grant for four officers, but perhaps the most outstanding part of this program is the level of cooperation between the Sherriff’s office and the school system that it exemplifies.
Boone County deputies have been assigned to each of the 14 elementary schools in the county.
Expansion of the program in 2000 added a School Safety Director, whose expenses are shared by the COPS grant and Boone County Schools. While all of the Boone County SROs are retired law enforcement officers, they work only during the school year, allowing them to pursue other interests during the summer months or obtain other employment. This policy has been proven to be an excellent recruitment tool.
Expansion of the program in 2000 allowed an SRO to be assigned to each of the district’s middle and high schools in the county. The one officer-one school assignment reflects the importance that the program places on creating close relationships with students and faculty.
Responsibilities of the officers are outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Sheriff’s office and school system:
Recently, the program implemented a helpline for students. “This way students can report school safety concerns anonymously, creating an open line of communication,” said School Safety Director Joe Humbert. The phone line connects to a digital answering machine that allows students to leave a message for Humbert or other SROs about things that are going on inside or outside of the school. Flyers explaining the program have been placed in every school in the district and students in art classes will be designing posters to promote the helpline.
Joe also plans to develop a website for the SRO program to include pictures and information about the current officers, as well as provide open forums for students.