Deputy Devon Sons holds the door open for Fairfax High School students as they move on to their next class. Students in all three Atchison County schools will become to know Deputy Sons as a familiar face in the halls thanks to his new role as the School Resource Officer for Rock Port, Tarkio and Fairfax.

Science students try to stump Atchison County Deputy Devon Sons with a complicated study question during one of his stops inside Fairfax High School classrooms on Friday, August 30. Deputy Sons will be visiting classrooms on a regular basis.

The Atchison County Sheriff’s Office announces that their office will now be providing a School Resource Officer (SRO) for Atchison County’s three public schools. Deputy Devon Sons will be a full-time resource officer at the schools, providing many services and resources to ensure the safety of teachers and students.

“I began working on this project in my mind almost three years ago. Although I believe school violence is often leveraged incorrectly by politicians and the media, no one can deny that even one violent injury or loss of life in our schools is too many. There is hardly anyone in the county who doesn’t have a personal vested interest in our children. Supported by the school administrations, county commissioners and county clerk, my original intent and eventual goal is to have one SRO based in each of the three school systems. However, that is a nearly $150,000 per year goal. Although I believe this county (sheriff’s office, commissioners, school boards, donations, etc.) has that potential, things like failed wind-farm projects, floods, poor crop growing conditions and typical financial challenges have driven this project to where we are today. The Atchison County schools have entered a memorandum of understanding with our office stating that Deputy Sons will provide safety training, emergency response planning and input on school policies for safety and procedure. If needed, he will also be an important part of investigating criminal activity on school property,” said Atchison County Sheriff Dennis Martin.

Sheriff Martin goes on to say, “The idea behind a School Resource Officer is multi-faceted. Besides what was previously mentioned, an armed officer on duty will familiarize the students with seeing a uniformed officer at their school, an important aspect of school safety and instilling a respect for law enforcement. And while the war on drugs is often the broad spectrum shotgun approach, programs like the SRO and D.A.R.E. focus specifically on those that are most vulnerable at the stage of life where habits or addictions are formed so easily. I also believe the presence of that officer should give parents some peace of mind knowing there is a sheepdog guarding the flock.”

Deputy Sons will continue his full-time responsibilities as a deputy at the Atchison County Sheriff’s Office where his commitments include answering calls to service and firearms instructor.

During a typical visit to the schools, Deputy Sons will most likely be spotted dropping into classrooms and greeting students as they arrive at school in order to develop a positive rapport with the staff and students.

“We want students to know that officers are available to them if they need to talk or report a possible incident and that we are accessible,” said Deputy Sons.

Studies on school resource officers have shown an increase in an overall feeling of safety and security in both student body and staff. It’s estimated that nearly 45% of public schools in the United States have at least one resource officer in their buildings as of 2018, according to the National Association of School Resource Officers.