CCSO to launch new SRO extension program

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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office will launch a new program that will provide school resource officers to all Charleston County schools.

Not every school in Charleston County has a school resource officer. The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office is looking to change that with their new ‘Adopt a School’ program.

“This is all about community policing,” Chief Eric Watson with CCSO said. “It’s an extension of our school resource program in terms of helping us continue building a bridge of trust between law enforcement and our community.”

Under the ‘Adopt a School’ program, a CCSO supervisor or deputy will be assigned to his or her perspective school. They will frequently visit the school, assess any safety or security concerns and build relationships with students, teachers and staff. The program is open to all public, private and charter schools without school resource officers, and daycare facilities. The program hopes to add an extra layer of security to schools in Charleston County.

“A lot of time school administration doesn’t have that face to face communication with the Sheriff’s Office,” Sergeant Edward Semlitsch said. “This will give them a person to directly contact for different concerns or questions. “

Semlitsch oversees CCSO’s current SRO program which services 21 Charleston County schools. Semlitsch says the relationship these officers will build with students will be paramount.

“This is an officer that they will know by name that the kids will get to know,” Semlitsch said. “We believe that it’s a huge benefit that the kids see us in a different light. They know we are still deputies, they know we still have a job to do but we can shake hands, we can give high fives, we can be their friends in that kind of environment.”

Chief Watson says the driving force behind initiating this program was to better protect children in the community.

“We’re serious about protecting our kids and protecting our schools,” Watson said. “Given the environment we are in now, they are a valuable asset to us so it’s important that we extend our resources out to the community.”

The program will launch Thursday, October 24. Any school that is interested in participating, please contact CCSO.

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