A group of Gwinnett high school students is exploring careers in law enforcement, thanks to a school-community partnership launched earlier this year. GCPS’ Department of Safety and Security and its school resource officers teamed up with the Northeast Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to create a Law Enforcement Explorer Post for GCPS students.
The co-ed program teaches students about careers in the law enforcement field. Membership is open to all currently enrolled Gwinnett County public high school students ages 14-20. Members of the post meet twice a month, generally on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Gwinnett School Police Headquarters located at 1229 Northbrook Center, Suite A, in Suwanee.
Veteran police officers provide the students with hands-on law enforcement training in a variety of areas, including traffic stops, search and seizure, domestic violence, and DUI and accident investigations. Officer Joe Barnes, a school resource officer (SRO) for the Peachtree Ridge Cluster, is the advisor for the post. He and other officers provide the training for the explorers.
School Police Chief Wayne Rikard is excited about the scouting partnership. “The BSA organization has done an outstanding job administering this opportunity,” Chief Rikard said. “[The program] has been around for a long time and they provide invaluable assistance to us in organizing and recruiting for our program.”
Around 10 students regularly make the meetings though recruitment continues to be a focus for the group. Graduates of the program are expected to eventually take over the program with officers supervising and overseeing them. The program will operate much like a police department in that members will be eligible to earn rank.
Trainees have the option of competing in regional events against other Explorers from different police departments from Georgia and the Southeast. During the summer, members also will be able to attend an abbreviated 40-hour police academy.
“The program provides us an opportunity to interact and build positive relationships between law enforcement and the youth of our community,” says Chief Rikard. “By building these relationships, we hope that our officers can provide a positive influence and role model for our students. It also allows participants to learn more about the law enforcement field in preparation for a possible career.”
About GCPS’ Office of Safety and Security…
GCPS’ Office of Safety and Security consists of 74 P.O.S.T-certified police officers and five full-time and four part-time office staff. (P.O.S.T. stands for Police Officer Standards and Training.) Out of more than 700 law enforcement agencies in Georgia, the district’s Police Department is one of just 100 agencies and only three school districts to qualify as a State Certified Agency. Being state certified ensures an agency continues to meet critical standards in law enforcement and noncritical standards in administration.
Gwinnett's SROs help educate students and parents about safety issues, while also protecting them and preventing inappropriate behavior on school campuses. The program was established and modeled to reflect a multifaceted approach to community policing in the schools. Commonly referred to as the "Triad Model," Gwinnett's school resource officers engage in three types of activities: law enforcement, counseling/mentoring, and law-related education.
Gwinnett County Public Schools is committed to ensuring its schools are safe and orderly. The school system takes a very proactive approach to ensuring the safety of students, staff members and campus visitors. Gwinnett County’s safe schools are the result of…
- Sensible safety measures
- A community committed to safe schools
- An attitude that doesn't tolerate threats to the education of our children
The expectation that all students will behave so their peers can learn and teachers can teach.