School resource officers also educate students — from elementary school to high school — on subjects such as social networking dangers and preventing drug and alcohol abuse.
“We take this very seriously and want to make sure our kids are safe,” Metzler said.
Matthew Norcross, a school resource officer in Salem for nine years, said he loves interacting with students and helping to make a difference in their lives while also preventing crime.
“We are preventing a lot of crimes because they come to us,” he said. “We stop them before they happen.”
Norcross said one of the most rewarding moments in his career was when a student walked up to him one day and confided in him.
“She said, ‘I was thinking about suicide, but I didn’t have anyone else to go to.”’
Norcross said he was just glad he was there for the girl when she needed him.
Officers nearly eliminated
But Norcross and his two fellow resource officers received a scare two years ago when Salem Town Manager Keith Hickey proposed the three positions be eliminated and the officers be reassigned to patrols.
An outcry, especially from school officials, persuaded selectmen to restore approximately $300,000 to pay for the positions, Delahanty said. The School Board also agreed to fund the jobs — instead of the town.
Norcross, who attends school resource officer meetings throughout New England, said he sometimes hears of positions being put in jeopardy because of communities’ needs to save money.
“I’ve had a lot of SROs tell me that they are being pulled,” he said. “When it’s time to cut, it’s one of the first positions they cut out.”
Pelham eliminated its resource officer position several years ago, but voters restored the job in 2011.
Delahanty said the public often thinks the school resource officers are hired solely to avert major tragedies, such as the massacre in December at a Newtown, Conn., school.