On June 10th, I arrived in Myrtle Beach to be a part of the S.C.A.S.R.O./D.A.R.E. Association of South Carolina’s 2018 conference. The annual 5-day conference provides school resource officers (SRO’S) continuous training for the S.C.A.S.R.O./D.A.R.E educational program. There are 22 state-supported training centers, where S.C.A.S.R.O./D.A.R.E provides 80-hours of coursework. Over 10,000 officers have taken the two-week course preparing them to teach it to our school children.
This program is currently being taught in 75% of our nation's schools and in more than 52 countries around the world. D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983, and since that time has gone through many changes. But one thing has remained a constant. The instructors for the classes are law enforcement officers. These highly trained officers deliver effective curricula to students from kindergarten through high school. Trained SRO’s teach a variety of subjects according to their age, such as stress management or safety when using social media.
Sr. Deputy Will Gibson of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, and President of the S.C.A.S.R.O./D.A.R.E Association in South Carolina has been teaching S.C.A.S.R.O./D.A.R.E for eleven years. He works tirelessly on behalf of the Association and vocally expressed how honored he is to be part of this program. His goal has always been to give officers the skills and confidence necessary to uphold the high standards our children deserve.
Our relationship with S.C.A.S.R.O./D.A.R.E all started with a sponsorship letter we received at the end of January from Deputy Terry Snead, the Sergeant of Arms with the S.C.A.S.R.O./D.A.R.E. Association of South Carolina. I am the Community Director for Thin Blue Line USA and my role is to find ways that we can connect with our communities both near and far. I contacted Deputy Snead to learn more about the nonprofit organization and how we could become a corporate sponsor.
From our conversations, I learned that Deputy Snead has served as a law enforcement officer for 27 years, worked as a patrol officer, a town officer, and as a trained traffic enforcement officer. Currently, he is working as a certified SRO with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department at the Sandy Run K-8 School. His wife Lauren will testify that this has been by far his most enjoyable job. He works as an officer of safety and crime prevention in the schools and is proud to admit, he’s found his calling. Lauren spends hours alongside her husband, making different costumes for him to wear to school. Undoubtedly, every Monday you will find him in character greeting the children as they enter the building and putting smiles on their faces.
Deputy Snead spends part of his time teaching a 10-week S.C.A.S.R.O./D.A.R.E program to 5th and 7th-grade students. The goal of the program is to help them make better-informed decisions by utilizing the D.A.R.E. Decision Making Model (DDMM). There are four steps in the D.A.R.E. decision-making model. The steps are 1) Define, 2) Assess, 3) Respond, and 4) Evaluate. SRO’s are using this model to help students understand bullying and what they can do to prevent it. This model offers students techniques for resolving conflicts with their fellow classmates. Deputy Snead says these students are learning important life skills to use in their everyday lives. Snead also splits his time with the lower grades (K-3) teaching safety and working alongside the teachers who also help students understand the dangers they could face. As a member of the Association, Deputy Snead has utilized his skills by forming groups that offer ongoing training.
Thin Blue Line USA proudly participated in the conference this year by becoming a corporate sponsor and as a vendor in Myrtle Beach. At our booth, we presented the officers with a grand selection of law enforcement items, but more importantly, we offered our support and recognition for their dedication to helping students make safe choices. The conversation that started back in January between myself and Deputy Snead has grown into a respect that I’ve gained for all SRO’s and a better understanding about how hard they work to gain trust with their students to keep them safe and aware.
- Linda Searles, Community Director, Thin Blue Line USA