A positive role model to look up to. That's what a new grant could be providing a local school system and its students. Tomorrow night, the Rockingham County supervisors will vote whether to accept the money that will put resource officers in the four county middle schools. WHSV found out one principal says the $150,000 grant will have a huge impact on the students.
Deputy Don Huntley has been a resource officer at Turner-Ashby High School for two years. He says having officers in schools can teach kids many lessons.
"Many times officers get stereotypes,” says Huntley, part of the Sheriffs' Crime Prevention office. "We're the guys that catch the bad guys and that’s all we do. But that’s not all we do. We do a lot with the general law of Virginia, we teach from middle school all the way up to high school."
Having officers in all Rockingham County middle schools is an idea principals like. They say it will give kids another role model to look up to and be a valuable resource to ask about juvenile law.
"Unfortunately, sometimes children don't make good judgment calls and that is a very wonderful resource for a parent and a child," explains Mary Shifflett, principal at Wilbur Pence Middle School. "So I think resource officers fill a tremendous place in the school that can only help."
Huntley says creating a safe environment for teaching and learning is the main goal for resource officers. They can help reach at-risk children who don't have anyone else to turn to. The new officers will keep resource officers from being pulled from their school to cover emergencies. The vote on the grant is tomorrow night.