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School resource officers working together with school marshals to keep schools safe

The 2018-2019 school year is just around the corner and there has been recent talk about about arming school employees.

There are already law enforcement officers on campuses at schools all over Abilene and Taylor County.

School resource officers like Stacy Dorado with the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office are the first line of defense against safety threats at numerous schools.

"You become a part of their life and they know they can count on you,” Dorado said.

SRO’s do more than just take action when there is an emergency, according to Dorado.

"We're really involved in their lives and parents' lives too,” Dorado said. “They know who we are, they come up to us and they know they can approach us if they need anything."

Dorado said that SRO’s also serve as mentors to the students at their assigned schools.

The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office has two SRO’s who cover five different campuses, which include Lawn Elementary School, Buffalo Gap Elementary School, Jim Ned Middle School, Jim Ned High School and Trent ISD's school.

Dorado said that they are mostly housed in the middle schools and high schools, but they drive to anywhere that they are needed.

The Abilene Police Department provides eight SRO’s, with seven of them serving Abilene ISD and the remaining one serving Wylie ISD.

The APD SRO's cover a total of 30 campuses, according to Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge.

"Having school resource officers on every campus, you know, that would be the perfect solution, but there aren't enough cops to make that happen,” Standridge said.

The School Marshal Program allows some school district employees to have a firearm on campus, but they can only use it if there is an active threat to the school's safety.

Participants in the School Marshal Program are required to have at least 80 hours of training with the Abilene Police Department and they must also take a psychological test.

"They're also there for quality of life for your students, so are the school marshals. We're going to work hand in hand. We're gonna work with both our ISD's to keep your kids safe,” Standridge said. “Mostly, it's a peace of mind for parents just to know that our presence is there."

The Taylor County Sheriff's Office is considering adding another SRO to their force, while the Abilene Police Department is sticking with their eight current SRO's.

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