GREENWOOD, South Carolina
You would think a celebrity had visited.
Strolling through the halls and cafeteria of Eleanor S. Rice Elementary School during dismissal, Bea Carroll is inundated with waves, nerdy smiles and requests for hugs from students. So much so that a line of students wanting a hug forms as she passes.
She’s not a celebrity, however, she’s Deputy Carroll, the school’s resource officer.
Carroll is one of many officers who spend their days at local schools, interacting with students and teachers and acting as the front line of security.
Greenwood County School District 50 is currently seeking five more to join the ranks after receiving state funding to put an officer in each school.
The district is working hand-in-hand with the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office to find candidates, but district safety officer Natalie Talbert said it’s been difficult because the district and the sheriff’s office want the right ones. people for the job.
School Resource Officers are Sheriff’s Office employees stationed at schools.
When you have good ORS, Talbert said, “everyone wins.”
“Because we have this built-in safety corner in place, in case something happens.”
Carroll has only been at Rice for a few months but has clearly made an impact on the students.
As she walked through the hallway where bus passengers were waiting, students asked her for hugs or stopped her to give her good news about their grades or behavior.
A teacher urged Carroll to peek into a student’s diary to see how well she was doing.
“I told you you could do it,” Carroll told the student.
Another girl stopped her in the hallway to show her an arm full of beaded bracelets. She then insisted that Carroll get one too.
Before leaving for paperwork, Carroll planned to speak to a few teachers, mentioning a recent shooting a few counties away.
Being an SRO can be tough, Carroll said, but she thinks more people should apply to become one. There are a lot of things that come with the territory, but it’s also rewarding.
She is passionate about preparing for the worst by educating students and doing things like active shooting drills.
Carroll has worked in law enforcement for about five years and said dealing with children is different from dealing with adults.
“Especially because quite often children can still be molded to do better even if their environment doesn’t suggest it,” she said.
“But with adults, it’s kind of like you have to work a little harder to break the cycle.”
While Carroll is relatively new to the role, Deputy Will Stroup has been in it for about a decade, spending nine years as SRO at Greenwood High and now working at the Genesis Education Center.
He previously worked in family court, which involved working with children and adolescents, and discovered that he enjoyed dealing with children better than adults.
“I think more than any other law enforcement, but you can really see a difference,” he said of being an SRO.
He mentioned that often the SROs see the students as much, if not more, than their parents.
Being on patrol in uniform you know you’re making a difference, he said, but you can make a call, help someone and never see them again.
This is not the case in schools, where officers are constantly present and can observe the difference they are making to students.
“The main asset we have for our future is the children,” Stroup said, adding that protecting and getting to know students through his work is one of the most rewarding experiences he has had.
Talbert said an important trait for being an SRO is good communication — being able to talk to anyone.
“What I do know is that you can’t fool students. They know if you’re sincere or not,” she said.
Talbert said previous law enforcement experience is preferred and encouraged anyone with the ultimate goal of being in a school setting to apply.
“But I will also say this: it’s not an easy job,” she said.
“It’s not a quick 9 to 5 job. It doesn’t stop when the school day ends. Because when things happen, even when it’s after school, you’re gonna have to deal with it.