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WASHINGTON — Spotsylvania County’s Sheriff’s Office plans to have armed School Resource Officers in all 17 county elementary schools by the end of next school year.

Most Virginia counties have SROs — typically local police officers or sheriff’s deputies — at all high schools and middle schools, but Virginia had just 37 full-time elementary SROs last year, according to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, as reported in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star.

Currently, Spotsylvania has three full-time elementary school SROs, but the Sheriff’s Office plans to put SROs in the remaining 14 elementary schools over the next year.

Sheriff’s Maj. Troy Skebo told the newspaper at least of four of the additional elementary school SROs will be in place by the beginning of the next school year.

The county will offer the positions to veteran Spotsylvania Co. deputies first, Skebo said.

“You’ve got to want that position. You definitely don’t want to (force) someone to go to the schools,” Skebo said.

The deputies would double as the school’s D.A.R.E. officers, after receiving the anti-drug program’s two-week training.

The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors approved a budget for next fiscal year that includes seven additional SROs at a cost of $460,000. The county will also submit a federal grant application to cover the cost of four more SROs.

Several Virginia school systems have begun discussing the possibility of having SROs in elementary schools, after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida.

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Copyright © 2019 D.A.R.E. America. All Rights Reserved.