School Resource Officer Program (SRO)
History of the SRO Program
The School Resource Officer Program was first implemented in Flint, Michigan during the late 1950’s. The Program was designed to bridge the gap between the Police and the youth by placing a Police Officer into the school on a full time basis. Due to the success of the program, School Districts and Police Agencies formed cooperative agreements to place an officer into the Schools. The program continued to excel and today School Resource Officer's can be found in schools worldwide. In 1991 the SRO Program went national when the National Association for School Resource Officers was formed. The Association implemented curriculum/standards for School Resource Officers.
School Resource Officers, commonly referred to as an SRO, form a positive relationship with the youth by taking a personal interest in the students' activities, promoting respect for people and property, and working to educate students on the legal system. The National Association for School Resource Officers, commonly referred to as NASRO, emphasizes the Triad Concept to new Officers by utilizing the SRO as the role of a teacher, counselor, and law enforcement officer. By training law enforcement to educate, counsel, and protect our school communities, the men and women of NASRO continue to lead by example and promote a positive image of law enforcement to our Nation’s youth.
A new SRO will attend 40 hours of training on topics such as developing teaching skills, the role of a Police Officer in the school, working as a problem solver, and being a good role model. At the conclusion of the training, an exam is administered to receive a certification through the National Association for School Resource Officers. SRO’s have the ability to attain an Advanced School Resource Officer certificate by completing an additional 24 hours of training on topics such as the relationship between the SRO and school administrators, crime prevention strategies, and school safety assessments.
CONESTOGA VALLEY SRO PROGRAM
In 2002 the Conestoga Valley School District and the East Lampeter Township Police Department formed a cooperative agreement to implement the SRO program on a pilot basis. An Officer would be placed in the School District on a full time basis for the 2002/2003 school year. Officer Preston Gentzler became the first SRO and worked hand in hand with Dr. Donovan Mann, the Assistant Principle, at the High School. The two were tasked with implementing the program within the Conestoga Valley School District .
In 2003, the Conestoga Valley School Board approved the continuation of the SRO program after hearing positive comments from students, parents, and staff about the impact of having an officer in the school. Officer Gentzler attained his Basic and Advanced SRO certifications to better serve the School District.
During the fall of the 2005/2006 school year, Officer Gentzler left the program to become a Detective. Officer Randy Shrom was appointed the next School Resource Officer.
Officer Shrom served as the school resource officer until January 2010, when he returned to the department to serve on a patrol platoon. During his tenure at the school district, Officer Shrom continued the rich tradition of excellent service to the students and staff of Conestoga Valley School District.
In January 2010, Officer Matthew Hess took over as the department's third school resource officer. In January 2014, Officer Matthew Hess returned to the patrol division after four highly successful years as the SRO for Conestoga Valley. During his term Officer Hess was instrumental in starting several new projects with the district. He was instrumental in developing the First Responder Safety Night where first responders from the Conestoga Valley area set up live demonstrations and displays for students in the High School parking lot. He also worked to enhance the security camera system district wide. The tenure of Officer Hess was highly successful and he achieved excellence in service like the Officers before him.
Officer Jon Werner now took over as the new SRO in January 2014. Officer Werner brought a wealth of experience to the table. He has a background in education and worked closely with the staff and students at Conestoga Valley in the past. Officer Werner hit the ground running by helping to set up a video production with the Police Department and the High School media Class on the dangers and pitfalls of social media.
Dr. Donovan Mann, who is currently the director of secondary education for the school district, was recently asked for his thoughts about the SRO program. Dr., Mann said, “The School Resource Officer Program is an excellent way for educators and local law enforcement to work collaboratively in providing a safe learning environment. By forming this partnership, the school district and East Lampeter Township Police Department are able provide to students, parents, teachers, and the larger community with resources that otherwise would not be available.”
Officer Waltman currently has an office at the Conestoga Valley High School , and can be contacted by calling at 399-1559 .