The SRO Program was first implemented in Flint, Michigan in 1951. Since the program's inception, it has successfully been put into practice in 35 states. Sheriff Truman Jones started the SRO Program in Rutherford County in 1993 with five officers in five schools. There are currently 60 officers working in 46 schools- helping to assure students safety and education.
A School Resource Officer (SRO) is a certified police officer who is assigned full-time to a school. For this, SRO's receive many hours of ongoing specialized training. The concept is similar to the "cop on foot patrol" who knows the public he serves on a first name basis and is sensitive to their particular needs. Like many adults, some students view police officers solely as enforcers of the laws.
By establishing a daily rapport with their school's SRO, students will not only gain positive role models, but also a better understanding of a police officer's many other duties and responsibilities. Likewise, SRO's will gain a better perspective of the youngsters in their schools.
By carefully assessing the needs of individual students, SRO's will be more aware of the development of unhealthy or destructive behavioral patterns. Through early intervention, it is possible, in many cases, to redirect negative behaviors before they cause a student to be referred to the Criminal Justice System.
The involvement of an SRO extends far beyond the classroom and the normal workday. Officers participate in parent-teacher and faculty meetings, student social and sporting events, and club projects. The presence of an SRO tends to strengthen the student/police bonds and shows the officer's commitment to the students, their education and their safety.
Officer Matt Powell began his law enforcement career with the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office in 2006. After a brief stint working in the Rutherford County jail, he was promoted to the patrol division where he served until becoming an SRO in 2013.
Officer Powell is a two-time "Life-saver" award winner and was given the Jerry Anderson Hero Award in January, 2015 by the Murfreesboro branch of the NAACP.