The Sioux Falls School District and Police Department are taking a team approach and changing how School Resource Officers monitor schools.
In the past, each SRO was assigned to a specific school. To help with the growing number of public and private schools in Sioux Falls, this fall the SROs will instead be assigned to a quadrant in which they can take a team approach to the schools in their area. The new SRO model is not too different. For example, the model will allow Washington High to keep its longtime primary officer in house. Here is what is different: some days he will visit other schools. In return, Washington has access to other officers. This team approach impacts the entire district, and it is designed to give students more face time with more officers.
"So if there's any type of a need or necessity, whether it's an emergency or just other things going on, they're comfortable with them and they at least know who they are," Jamie Nold, Washington High School Principal, said.
As of this year, the Sioux Falls School District has 15 School Resource Officers. Last year it had 11 SROs, three ICan officers and one school safety officer. By making them all SROs, and using this quadrant model, Lt. Matt Burns says this has the potential to keep evolving and improving.
"If we identify something that works really well in a particular school, then they work those items and learn those lessons as a team approach. If they keep that in that quadrant, they're free to share that and we expect them to, and we ask them to share that with other quadrants to say, 'Hey, this is working well,'" Lt. Burns said.
Just a few weeks into the school year, Nold gives the new approach a passing grade.
"It's good. The more, the merrier that know our building, that are able to support us in this setting. We appreciate having them here," Nold said.