Richland County, SC (WLTX) - The Richland County Sheriff's Department created policy in the hopes to better serve students with disabilities.
"When they have issues, we need to understand what those issues are and we need to treat them accordingly," Sheriff Leon Lott said.
Sergeant Shawn McDaniels helped shape the policy which involves a TIER approach: Team, Intervention, Emergency, Response.
At tier one the School Resource Officer provides a supportive presence only.
"SRO duties do not include involvement in classroom management, so that's something we have to stress," McDaniels said.
At tier two the SRO provides a supportive physical presence and assists faculty with de-escalation techniques and at tier three, when the danger appears to be unavoidable the SRO intervenes, becomes the leading point of contact and uses the appropriate law enforcement response.
"It forces us to hold a conversation. Enough with the assumptions," he said.
"The lines of communication have been able to be opened up a little bit more," Jinni Friend said.
The policy was created in partnership with schools across the district. Friend is the Special Education Coordinator for Lexington Richland School District Five.
"And so it's a little different than sometimes on the street and working. They have to trust the educators to be able to say, 'Hey. This is this student and this is what he needs. I would like you here to support me, but I'm not quite ready for you to intervene,'" said Friend.
Senior Deputy Jamel Bradley is deaf. He's been working as a School Resource Officer at Spring Valley High School for eight years and said he understands what students go through.
"We have the resources and the tools to help them. They just have to not be afraid to see if we can help solve the problem," Bradley said.
School administrators will also work with teachers throughout the districts explaining the policy.