School resource officers keeping schools safe - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

School resource officers keeping schools safe

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PASCO, Wash.-- Student safety and crime prevention are top priorities for school administrators and having an officer on campus can often make a big difference.

Officers placed at schools are there to protect students from outside harm coming into the school and to keep order inside the halls.

But what some parents might not know, is that school resource officers can help with issues outside of school.

"If they're having problems in the park, where they live, in the neighborhoods that they live, between gangs or theft or any other issues they also can bring that to school. Then when they're here at school they're not able to learn," says Deputy James LeDoux.

Franklin County Deputy James LeDoux has been a school resource officer for twenty years.

He describes what he does as a sort of sub-station for the community and kids at McLoughlin Middle School in Pasco know they can turn to him for help.

McLoughlin Middle School Principal John Wallwork says Deputy LeDoux is a good presence to have in the halls.

"Kids see our deputy, a man in uniform. They have that feeling of safety here. We use him as a resource. Almost as a consultant when it comes to issues that we're working with," says Wallwork.

Wallwork says middle school can be a critical time to keep kids from going down a bad path.

"It can turn them one way or the other. So working on that aspect and educating them about choices and decisions, things they do outside of school are hugely important to them. It's a great age group to get law enforcement in," says Wallwork.

Ledoux deals with lots of issues, like stolen property, fights and every once in while, drugs. He says the kids are generally pretty good and he credits that to their focus on prevention.

"We try to educate kids on the criminal element but if it does go further, we bring in parents, teachers, administration and if it has to go to the legal element then it gets sent off to the prosecuting attorney. We try not to have it go that far," says LeDoux.

Last year, Franklin County School Districts saw less than seven percent of their students get suspended or expelled. Benton County's rate was around four percent. The biggest reasons were for fighting or illicit drugs.