The Coffey County Sheriff's Office has adopted a philosophy known as Community Oriented Policing to our patrol methods. The idea of providing Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, is not a new technique to law enforcement. However, by learning through history and past experience, our nation's law enforcement agencies are adopting the philosophy of partnerships with our communities and their organizations to improve communication, and thus improve our ability to combat crime and to recognize and solve community related problems.
In 1997, the Coffey County Sheriff's Office applied for and received a federal grant allowing us to hire a COPS officer. This officer's duties would be primarily as a community liaison officer, attending community meetings, schools, and developing programs for our youth to improve relations and to break down the barriers that have caused communication gaps between the officers and the citizens they serve. Although the grant funding expired in 2001, Sheriff Randy Rogers has continued to support the program and is now running the program out of his budget.
In April 2019, Deputy Jessica S. Stice was moved into that position. Since that date, Deputy Stice has been increasingly involved in our communities by attending meetings of our organizations, school assemblies and classroom instruction, developing various programs for our youth, and various patrol and investigation duties as they arise.
Community policing is a method which requires dedication to the basic motivations behind police service. We are here to protect and to serve our communities to the best of our abilities. Without community support, high ethical standards among our officers, and a willingness to learn about our communities' needs, this cannot be accomplished.
Committed to Kansas Kids!
In June 2019, Deputy Stice was certified as a School Resource Officer or SRO. Deputy Stice is a member of both the Kansas Juvenile Officers Association and the National Association of School Resource Officers. Deputy Stice's primary job is to protect property, staff, and students within our schools in Coffey County. Deputy Stice's other duties is to work school events and to work with the administration and students. In some cases she works with the parents of the student.
Deputy Stice takes pride in what she believes in. Deputy Stice works with the following schools within Coffey County:
USD 243 - Lebo Junior/Senior High, Lebo Elementary, Waverly Junior/Senior High and Waverly Grade Schools;
USD 244 - Burlington High, Burlington Middle, Burlington Elementary Schools and The Coffey County Learning Academy;
USD 245 - Southern Coffey County High, Southern Coffey County Middle, LeRoy Elementary; and Gridley Elementary Schools.
What is a School Resource Officer?
A School Resource Officer Program is: A full-time law enforcement officer in the schools with the goal of creating and maintaining a safe educational environment for students, teachers, and staff. With such a program, the officer represents a superior model of community policing. A School Resource Officer Program (SRO) represents a specialized approach providing evidence of a community's desire to ensure that a safe and secure learning environment exists in its schools.
School Resource Officers are: A valuable resource for their assigned schools as well as the school districts to which they are assigned. The SRO's obtain 40 hours of specialized training to fulfill four basic roles:
- First and foremost they are Law Enforcement Officers whose primary purpose is to "keep the peace" in their schools so students can learn;
- Second they are Advisors who provide guidance to students about law enforcement questions;
- Third they are a Resource to act as a link to support services both inside and outside the school environment;
- And Fourth they are Law-Related Teachers who provide the schools with an additional resource by sharing their expertise in the law-related education classroom.
Beyond these identified roles and, perhaps the most important, SRO's are Positive Role Models for many students who are not exposed to such role models in today's society.
School Resource Officers Will NOT: Enter the school and begin stepping on toes or interfering with the way the school functions.
- The SRO will NOT replace School Security, (if the school has security in place) who will continue to function as usual. The SRO can be contacted for help or training, but the SRO will not act as a security guard.
- The SRO will not attempt to replace certified teachers. SRO's will act as guest instructors for informational and entertainment value.
- Students' rights will be protected under the search and seizure laws of the United States Constitution. Students will not be subject to unlawful searches or interrogations. Parents will be contacted as the law and school policy dictate when students are dealt with regarding criminal activity.
- The school staff and teachers will not be asked to act as the SRO's agent. The school will react and follow up on tips and complaints as school policy deems necessary. The school will then initiate the SRO as if they were calling 911. If the situation is potentially life threatening, the SRO would of course intervene.
The "Promise" of an SRO Program is: An encouraging strategy to enable communities to address school problems with both prevention and intervention techniques. Having an SRO on the school campus can prevent problems from happening. When problems do arise, SRO's can intervene immediately to address what is taking place. The result is a safer and more secure school for students, teachers and staff. The entire community benefits as well because learning is more likely to take place in such an environment.
The School Resource Officer concept is proactive and is the ultimate example of Community Policing. Its police officers work directly with the community they protect, then tailor their methods to meet that communities’ needs. Having an SRO Program is a boost to any department and community, with positives that more than clearly outweigh any drawbacks.