This Living Local segment is sponsored by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CBS 42 Living Local), The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is on a mission to keep those who work and learn inside schools and the community surrounding them safe. A bill previously was passed to be able to allow retired deputies who have worked in the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to serve as School Resource Officers. 

“That way we can have more deputies allotted for us to be able to take care of the schools and the streets,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway. “We need experienced deputies because they know how to deal with people. They know how to take care of situations, and that’s something we need in the schools as well as on the streets.”

Currently, an SRO is stationed at every Jefferson County school. Sheriff Pettway emphasized their job is invaluable because SROs bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.

“They are also in the schools to get along with the kids there,” Pettway added. “The kids, once they know the officers, will bring all kinds of information to the officers. That helps prevent things from happening in the schools, which is what we want. We want to be on the preventing end and not the responding end.”

Deputy Darrius Black is a full-time SRO at Clay-Chalkville High School, which has approximately 1,400 students. Deputy Black said when he walks into work every day, he knows he’s making a difference. 

“We’re a big asset to patrol as well because if they’ve got something on outside like a burglary that a student may have seen, the student is going to come to me before they possibly come to a patrol deputy,” said Deputy Black. “There are a lot of ways that an SRO is important to the school.”

Deputy Black added that having a former deputy take on the job can only help, because experience in the field is an asset.

“If you’re going to fill this position, do it because you want to make a difference for some of these students,” said Black. “We are probably just that one step of ‘Hey, How are you doing?’ Actually talking to a student just makes their day.”