MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Madison County school district is adding four school resource officers. Three of the four returned to active duty when called upon by Sheriff Mike Coyle, and each was sworn in this morning.
“I was honored when Mike called and asked me to do this,” said Deputy Randy Hensley.
Deputy Hensley has SRO experience, having worked as one in the Berea school district. While he is aware of the role an SRO takes on by acting as a deterrent, he is also versed in the other aspects of the job.
“We’re there if they need anything. If a parent needs us, they can stop and talk to us as well as the children. That’s what we’re there for,” Hensley said after receiving his new badge.
Hensley will be working at Waco Elementary School. Deputy Delzie Kelly will be assigned to Kingston Elementary, while Deputy Michael Marcum and Deputy Charles Tinsley will be at a post at Boonesborough and Kirksville Elementary schools, respectively. For Tinsley, it was a move he volunteered for after coming out of retirement in 2021 to work in the county court for a brief time.
“I feel that strongly about it,” he said. “I’ve had kids in school, and there were times I worried about their safety before resource officers became part of the schools,” he continued.
Resource officers are now a part of all of Kentucky’s schools per state law. The program, which was designed for the obvious reason of keeping the students and faculty members safe, is also somewhat of a mentorship program. The officers are able to develop relationships with the kids over the years. The bond they form can oftentimes help an officer detect and ward off trouble before it festers.
“We’re there just in case something unfortunate were to happen, but we’re there to be with the kids and be their friends. They’ll think of us like one of the teachers,” Deputy Marcum said.
Superintendent Dr. David Gilliam said the county has been utilizing SROs in other buildings before it became law. This, however, is the first time his district has partnered with the Sheriff’s office to add officers to elementary schools.
“Building relationships with the kids is what keeps us safe. It’s when adults in the building have good relationships with the students,” Dr. Gilliam said. “There’s a lot of safety things school resource officers can help with, not necessarily criminal safety, but safety in general,” he continued.
And when they bring the right attitude to the building, developing those relationships will be much easier.
“I’ve got two kids. Starting Monday, I’ll have over 200 kids,” said Deputy Tinsley. “I want the community and parents to know that we will treat their kids like our own,” he added.