BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The National Association of School Resource Officers is based in Hoover. Last year, they trained around 2,200 officers. So far this year, they’ve already trained more than 2,500. A basic training class is 40 hours spread over one week.
"Talking about the students they'll be working with, their brain development of the adolescent child, how to work with students with special needs, and just school law. How it differs from working on the streets and what we can and can't do in schools," says Mac Hardy.
Active shooter training is also a must. In fact, it can be argued that the rise in SROs is connected to recent school shootings.
“And I really believe that Alabama is on the forefront, we have a very strong state organization of school resource officers,” says Hardy.
For many, it can be a difficult transition: Going from that mindset of patrolling the streets to patrolling the hallways.
“And that’s why we say it’s important to get the right person to go inside a school. Because you do have to have somebody that’s able to step back and allow school administration to do their job, teachers do their job, and to build relationships, not only with those students but also with that school administration,” says Hardy.
One of the main goals - to build trust and a bond with students through interaction and speaking in classrooms.
“The number of students that come to officers because they’ve had this trust relationship and tell them about something they’re concerned about in school has really grown in the past year,” says Hardy.
Hardy says they’ve also started educating officers on mental health issues, whether it be the student or their friend or family member.