Columbia County celebrates first year with individual school resource officers

Monday, May 13, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

COLUMBIA COUNTY, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – Columbia County schools are wrapping up their first school year with resource officers. The county added them to keep your kids safe.

South Columbia Elementary was one of the 32 schools with a school resource officer assigned each day. But for the students, the officers are more than just a person in a uniform – officers like Tavarus Young.

"When I walk in the door, it's show time,” Young said. “I laugh and I smile with the kids, but I'm always thinking about, what if."

Young is there for the worst-case scenario, but he's also there to put a smile on a face, break up fights, and give advice.

"I'm here to protect them, but not so much have them think about being protected,” Young said. “More of an uncle, big brother-type figure."

Now, more than ever, it seems kids need guidance.

"He's high-fiving our kids in the morning, throughout the day, he's in the lunchroom, he's in the building, he's in the car rider line, and the kids really love seeing him around,” South Columbia Elementary School Principal Kristen Carroll said.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office says the number of incidents reported at schools is growing. Four of the seven middle schools had an increase in the number of incident reports this year. Most of them were fights, but in the high school, drug-related reports followed second.

Investigators say there wasn't an increase in school threats, but there also wasn't a decrease.

Officer Young hopes he can make an impression on the kids. By the stack of handmade cards on his desk, it looks like he's on the right track.

"It's really fulfilling to know that you're coming in and putting a positive spin on somebody else's life, you know?" Young said.

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