Prevention Resource Officers (PRO) make a difference in schools, making them safer and changing student attitudes, officials said.
There are already officers in many local middle and high schools. Now PRO officers in Upshur County are expanding their presence by starting at a different level.
On Wednesday, school officials and the Upshur County Sheriff's Department toured French Creek Elementary. It will be one of the seven elementary schools designated as a satellite location for the PRO program. The three main components of the program are prevention, mentoring, and safety. The idea of expansion came from its two current PRO officers.
"The idea came up and we decided it was a great thing that we need to jump on board and go with it," said Sheriff Dave Coffman.
County School Superintendent Roy Wager said forming the partnership is a great opportunity. Satellite locations will give officers a place where they can file reports, contact the main office or be a positive mentor to students they interact with.
"Allowing the kids to see the deputies in a new light as just a friend for the community, friend of the school will just make the kids that much more aware of the job the deputies do in the county," said Roy Wager.
School officials and law enforcement agree that providing a safer school environment and mentoring services assures a better school experience for all youth.
"It's been a great program. These guys work with the students hands on, they work with the staff. It just makes a safer environment for everyone," Coffman said.
The PROs will set up satellite locations while the students are on their Thanksgiving break.