RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Despite the empty parking lots, Wake County schools are still busy as a home base for learning.
“They’re still open. It’s virtual, but they’re still open,” said Sheriff Gerald Baker.
Because schools are still open, Baker decided to keep student resource officers (SROs) at them.
He said eight SROs have been reassigned to other tasks, like gun permits and the courts. However, a dozen are still at the schools.
“I just believe that we’ve still got administrators, we’ve still got teachers, a lot of them choose to go to the campus and to be virtual from the classroom,” said Baker.
The sheriff said he wants SROs to be there since concerned parents still drop by.
“They’re not there all day,” he said. “They just go in check in, ‘Hi, everything’s fine’ and then they move on to another one, so by the time they get around to them all, we’ve covered them all.”
Johnston County School officials said they also have their SROs touching base with schools right now and helping with different events, along with working for their primary employer. They’re expected to be back on campuses full time on September 28.
In Orange County, SROs have helped schools distribute food boxes and check on students if needed. Aside from that, they’ve mainly been reassigned to patrol and court security.
In Durham County, all SROs are reassigned to other divisions for the time being. They’re working civil/courts, patrol, records and in the criminal investigation division. They’re scheduled to be back at the schools the week of October 12th.
Groups recently protested against SROs in the Triangle, arguing it’d be better to have mental health counselors and nurses instead.
The groups said SROs contribute to systemic racism and over-policing.
Baker said their goal is not to make arrests at schools, but to promote safety and support both the kids and faculty.
“We’re not there to be looking to arrest these children or anything like that, but to help build the trust and relationship to where they feel if they have any problems with things, it’s okay to come let us know about it.
“This office will always be there until the Wake County School System says we no longer need you, we’ll be there,” said the sheriff.