WASHINGTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Up until a month ago, only half of the K-12 public schools in Washington County had a school resource officer, but now each school has an officer on site every day.
"Added SROs have made a big impact on our county," Vernon High School SRO Corporal Justin Jenkins said. "There's no better security than having an armed SRO on every school campus."
Jenkins was serving as the SRO for all three schools in Vernon.
"You don't get adequate support to our kids. I'm one man," Jenkins said. "Now we've got three here. We've got Deputy Lee over at Vernon Elementary and Deputy Pettis at Vernon Middle School."
It's Deputy John Pettis' first year at Vernon Middle School, but he's been an SRO for the past five years.
"Between playing volleyball, basketball, and just every once in awhile stepping in a classroom, I really enjoy that age," Pettis said. "It's a good age. It's kinda a stepping stone age."
Both Jenkins and Pettis said they understand the weight their roles carry.
"Fences and cameras are a great preventative, but having that officer there that's been trained in his job profession is very good for us and our students," Jenkins said.
"Several students, as well as teachers, even parents have approached us and say they feel really safe that we are there," Pettis said.
What makes the job of a school resource officer unique?
"The interaction, walking through the hallway and getting a high five," Pettis said. "Most of the time in our job it's kinda a negative look that we get from the public, and being within the school system is actually always positive."
"Sometimes we're their only voice," Jenkins said. "We're the only one they feel comfortable coming to and that's the rewarding part about being an SRO."
The Washington County school resource officers are: Corporal Justin Jenkins at Vernon High School, Deputy John Pettis at Vernon Middle School, Deputy Casey Lee at Vernon Elementary School, Deputy Josie Griggs at Chipley High School, Deputy Tyler Brannon at Roulhac Middle School, and Deputy Josie Coleman at Kate Smith Elementary School.