Sheriff offers SRO options

Published 4:17 pm Monday, February 24, 2020

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By Diana McFarland

The Smithfield Times


Isle of Wight Sheriff James Clarke is offering up a plan to put a school resource officer in all of the county’s nine public schools.

The plan allows for three options — to hire five in one year or phase it in over a two or three-year period, according to a budget presentation to the Isle of Wight School Board by Superintendent Jim Thornton.

Currently, the Sheriff’s Office has four SRO’s – one in each high school and one in each middle school.

The request will go to the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors, which appropriates funding for the Sheriff’s Office and the school division.

Clarke said he would prefer to have get all five at once, but understands the budget constraints.

To hire all five would cost $391,555, according to the presentation.

The two and three-year plan spreads that cost out over time.

If implemented, the SRO’s would be assigned to Carrollton and Carrsville elementary schools first. Carrsville is one of the first because of distance, said Clarke.

Clarke said this request has to be weighed against other needs in his department, such as court and patrol personnel — particularly with new residential developments coming along.

“That’s why I gave them (the Board of Supervisors) options,” said Clarke, adding that he doesn’t know which Board will pick up all, or part, of the tab.

At one time, Isle of Wight had SROs in all of its public schools. That changed in 2012 when former Sheriff Mark Marshall was elected, replacing former Sheriff C.W. “Charlie” Phelps.

SRO’s were put in all the schools in 2007 in response to a shooting at an Amish school in Pennsylvania.

Continued school shootings, particularly at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, has refueled the desire to put SROs in all the schools, as well as spend money to beef up security in other ways, to include a one-button notification system for first responders.


DIANA MCFARLAND is the editor at The Smithfield Times. Contact her at 357-3288 or