URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The new school resource officers (SRO’s) are hard at work after finishing their training.
It was a 40-hour course that introduced officers to the duties of an SRO. The school board voted in November to create two full-time SRO positions. That decision came after issues with fights at both the middle and high schools last year. They now have full time officers at both campuses.
This training taught them how to be mentors, while still protecting students. It also helped them realize how much their position makes a difference in students’ lives.
“I’d say the majority of them don’t even realize I carry a weapon,” said Urbana Middle School resource officer Michelle Robinson. Going from a patrol officer to a full-time school resource officer is something Robinson says took some adjusting, but it’s a change she’s starting to embrace.
“They’re getting more comfortable with me. So they come up. They’ll come to me before they come to support staff,” said Robinson. This week, she’s back from a 40-hour SRO training. “It teaches us some things that you probably wouldn’t understand on patrol. Triggers – a lot of mental health. A lot of, kindof learning to the why children are doing what they’re doing.”
Since Robinson started walking these halls in September, she’s already noticing a shift.
“It has cut back a lot on fighting,” said Robinson. “You’re gonna have your flare-ups, but nothing like it was last year, whether it’s here or at the high school.”
She says her position is just as important to protect students from what’s outside school walls as it is to guide the kids within.
“Our kids are getting younger in the crimes that they’re committing. I mean, as everyone in the Champaign-Urbana area knows, the majority of our crimes are by young adults.” Whether she’s mentoring, protecting, or being a confident, Robinson is happy her training prepared her for whatever shoes she has to fill.
“Everybody kindof sees me in and about and it’s more of, ‘Hey how’s it going; how was your weekend?’ We’ve become friends.”
Robinson started as an SRO at the middle school in September, but the officer at the high school didn’t start until after the board voted in November. Both of them completed this 40-hour training.