The Need for Security
There are approximately 2500 students enrolled in the Pierre Public School System, which encompasses Buchanan, Jefferson, McKinley, Washington Elementary Schools, Georgia Morse Middle School and Riggs High School. Collectively, these schools create mini cities in themselves, which also creates the need for security and protection not only for students, but for teachers, parents, and visitors attending the schools for civic events such as sporting events.
The School Resource Officer (SRO) Program around the nation have been created to assist schools and the law enforcement community with the rising security and protection needs associated with the operation of schools.
History of the Program
SRO's first came about in 1953 in Lansing, Michigan. Since its inception, and especially since the April 1999 Columbine Colorado High School incident, the program has expanded to other cities and states, including Pierre. The Pierre Police Department and Pierre Public Schools System teamed together in 1999 and through collective efforts have successfully created, adopted, and expanded the School Resource Officer Program in the schools.
The SRO position originally began with one officer assigned to Riggs High School. As a result of positive influence and its effect at Riggs High School, it created the addition of a second SRO position and expansion to the other Pierre schools as well. Officer Kaitlin Holter currently serves as the SRO for Georgia Morse, Buchanan and Jefferson Schools. Officer Richard Bauman currently serves as the SRO for Riggs, McKinley and Washington Schools.
Since its inception, the Pierre SRO's have been instrumental in the development, implementation, and testing of a comprehensive security / protection plan for the schools. This plan involved the labeling of all doors and access points, as well as procedures controlling the doors and access points. SRO's have also been instrumental in the development and testing of procedures for emergency lock down and evacuation drills. Cameras have also bee installed for security enhancements.
In addition, SRO's handle any law enforcement related incidents which occur on the school premises. They provide guidance on how to avoid becoming a victim and participate in the annual canine drug sweep at Georgia Morse Middle School and Riggs High School to help ensure the schools remain drug free. Both school resource Officers also serve as D.A.R.E. instructors for all fifth grade students.
Prior to becoming a SRO, an officer must go through a two-week certification course. Pierre Police School Resource Officers also attend the annual SRO conference to keep them up-to-date on issues important to the SRO Program.
During the summer months when school is not in session, the SRO's are temporarily assigned to either patrol section or criminal investigations section.