The Clayton Police Department has expanded its School Resource Officer (SRO) Program, and for the first time in the Town’s history, a Clayton Police Officer will serve as the SRO for Clayton High School.
The Clayton Town Council has approved an expansion of the Clayton Police Department SRO program to include one additional officer. The added position allowed the department to expand its SRO coverage to include Clayton High. The department previously had provided two SROs to cover Clayton Middle, West Clayton Elementary, Cooper Academy, Riverwood Middle, Riverwood Elementary, and Powhatan Elementary.
Officer Alexandria Woodall is the Town's newest SRO, and she is assigned to serve Clayton High this school year.
“One of the main reasons I chose a career in law enforcement was to become an SRO,” said Officer Woodall. “I had a great SRO when I was in high school, and I looked up to her. She inspired me to work within a school and act as a mentor to students.”
According to Clayton Police Chief Greg Tart, the Johnston County Board of Education requested the Town assign sworn law enforcement officers to serve as the SROs for the Clayton area Johnston County Public Schools.
SRO play an important role in school safety, and their duties can vary from day to day. Some responsibilities include monitoring school halls, ensuring that entry points are secure, supervising classroom changes, directing traffic, and leading fire/lockdown drills. SROs assist administrative staff, teachers, and parents as needed. They also serve as the liaisons between the Town, Johnston County Public Schools, and the Clayton Police Department.
Clayton Police Department's SROs approach their job philanthropically.
“The face of School Resource Officers is changing. Considering recent events, more officers are seeking SRO certification. We want to show kids that we are here for them and that we are human too,” said Officer Avigail Cruz, SRO at Clayton Middle, West Clayton Elementary, and Cooper Academy. “We do this because we want what is best for students in our community.”
Cruz added that the expectations and requirements of SRO have evolved in recent years. To work as an SRO, officers must become certified through a 40-hour course, which they must renew each year. This course covers an intensive knowledge of Juvenile Law and School System Policies.
“SROs are extremely valuable and necessary in today's climate and culture. Clayton’s team is composed of three female officers, who each come from vastly different walks of life. We all bring unique approaches and backgrounds to the table. This will allow us to connect with students and make headway with community relations and school safety,” said Officer Aurora Stanley, SRO at Riverwood Middle, Riverwood Elementary, and Powhatan Elementary.
Stanley added that all three Clayton’s SROs are looking forward to a safe, fun school year spent mentoring students and building positive relationships within their designated schools.