IDAHO, USA — The news of Monday's shooting at a school in Nashville has caused a ripple of concerns for families and students across the country.
In light of the recent shooting, KTVB spoke with Meridian Police about how school resource officers - or SROs - are trained to protect and serve Treasure Valley schools.
SROs are police officers that are stationed at schools and are often the first responders to emergencies on campus.
To become an SRO, Meridian PD say its officers have to pass a number of tests. Once they're assigned to a school, officers go through special response training for emergency situations, like active shooters.
Sgt. Morgan Carter is the team supervisor of Meridian PD's SRO division. He says communication with school's administrations and staff is vital for SROs.
"We'll work with the school as much as we can, the administration. We'll go through our drills, our lockdown drills, hall checks, evacuations and reverse evacuations - and we do that a couple times a year," Sgt. Carter said. "Our officers that are also assigned to those schools also go through separate, smaller drills with the administration as well."
The Boise Police Department has 17 SROs. Their entire department has undergone training in the last year about active shooters, and their SROs also receive additional training.
The Nampa Police Department has 11 SROs. All of their officers attend in-house training on varying topics.
The Meridian Police Department has 19 SROs. The department recently added 5 SROs dedicated to elementary schools. Their SROs go through trainings several times per year.
While SROs are stationed at schools to protect schools and act as law enforcement, the job is also about teaching and building relationships with students.
"First and foremost, we're in the classrooms, we're helping teach, and we're doing any prevention training that we can do with our teachers and our students before school, after school, and at lunch," Sgt. Carter said. "We're also mentors. We want to be a mentor to those students."
A program called the Idaho Standard Command Responses for Schools was formed in 2018 to help standardize responses to school emergencies across the state.
"We really wanted to figure out for school emergencies what would work best and was a standardized approach," Lt. Shawn Harper of the Meridian Police Department said. "Because under stress or anxiety, depending on what the emergency is - it could be a fire or a gas leak or a human threat. We want kids and staff to be able to respond accordingly and understand what they need to do to be safe."
The program lays out standard procedures for lockdowns, hall checks, evacuations and reverse evacuations in order to make sure that SROs, students and staff are all on the same page during emergencies.
"We're pretty much covering school districts throughout the entire state. So, we're all speaking the same language, we have the same protocols," Lt. Harper said. "I think it brings comfort to kids and staff knowing that there's some consistency in school safety in Idaho."
Sgt. Carter says that many of their SROs come from patrol, and it takes a special mindset and dedication to students for an officer to become an SRO.
"It's definitely a specialty that not everybody can do. You have to have the right mindset, we're all geared a little bit different," Sgt. Carter said. "You have to have a passion to helping kids for one and wanting to be involved in the school."
Multiple law enforcement agencies across the Treasure Valley are planning for a collaborative active shooter SRO training this summer.
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