Wythe County hires school resource officers for every school

WYTHE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) Corporal Stu Vaught circles the cafeteria; saying hi to staff and having fun with students. He's been a school resource officer for 17 years, but he didn't know whether this job would still exist this year because of budget restraints.

"I was nervous for our communities," he said.

This past spring, the Wythe County board of supervisors voted unanimously to raise the property tax by 5 cents to pay for school improvements and the SRO program.

"The communities wanted their kids safe and they were willing to pay for it," Wythe County Sheriff, Keith Dunagan, said.

The officers do more than protect schools.

"When you're here all the time, you build trust," Vaught said. "You can't pop in here one day and expect to build trust. It's earned over the school year."

Vaught is one of 12 SRO's who have been hired for the school year.
Two more will eventually be hired, for a total of 14 SRO's

"You're not going to find too many school systems that can say 'we have an SRO at each one of our schools,'" Superintendent Scott Jefferies said. "And for us to be able to say that, we realize that that's special, we realize that's something we can be proud of, and we are."

There's over 300 years of combined law enforcement experience between all the SRO's in Wythe County.

"They come with a wealth of knowledge and we are proud to have them here," Jefferies said.

Vaught says there's no where else he'd rather be.

"Right now, I may not know whose life I'm affecting, but later on I will," he said.