Richardson takes over as county PRO
When Deputy J.L. Richardson graduated from Tyler Consolidated High School in 2000, he gave little thought to ever walking the hallowed halls of his alma mater again. But when the school bell rings on Monday morning, he will return to take his post in the main office as the Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) for the Consolidated schools.
The PRO program is a cooperative effort between schools and law enforcement to: Improve student’s attitudes and knowledge of criminal justice and law enforcement; to prevent juvenile delinquency; to mentor youth; to provide a safer school environment and; to combine safety and child advocacy assuring a better school experience for all West Virginia youth.
The three main components of the PRO Program are prevention, mentoring, and safety.
In the area of prevention, the officers facilitate classes on non-traditional educational topics such as juvenile law, domestic violence, underage drinking, drug and alcohol prevention, and child abuse and neglect. As mentors, they are trained on how to be a positive mentor to students they interact with daily.
Additionally, officers are trained to recognize potentialdanger, prevent violence, and to respond to dangerous school situations.
Deputy Richardson says his primary objective is to protect the students. “They are our most precious resource,” he commented.
Richardson and his K-9 Bravo will maintain an office in the school and will be on duty a minimum of 35-40 hours per week. In addition to the regular school day, Richardson will attend extra curricular activities throughout the school year.
Though the grant was written primarily for the middle school and high school, Richardson plans to visit the elementary schools in the area as much as he can to develop relationships with the students at a young age. “I hope the students will feel comfortable coming to me with problems or information. One of my goals is to impart to them that we (law enforcement officers) are not the enemy.”
The program came to Tyler County in 2006, when Sheriff Bob Kendle, who was a deputy at the time, was brought into the school as the resource officer under another grant. In 2009, Deputy D.S. Dalrymple took over and finished the former grant and was later certified as a PRO. With seasoned officers preceding him, Richardson recognizes the important role he must play in the school. “The Sheriff did an exceptional job when he was here and Deputy Dalrymple was very well liked. I have some big shoes to fill but I am looking forward to the task ahead of me. It will also be great to go give back to the school I graduated from,” Richardson elaborated.
Richardson’s new duties will also give him an opportunity to spend more time with his family. “My family has been very supportive of this change of direction in my career and they are very excited about the prospect of spending more time with me. My daughter is very young and she is precious to me. The more time I get to spend with her, the better.”
That being said, Richardson hopes to be the PRO at Tyler Consolidated when his own daughter reaches the middle school level.
The PRO Program currentlyoperates through multiple funding streams. This program is supported by the Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG), Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Title II Grant Program, Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program and Purdue Pharma funding.
There are currently 66 officers in 66 schools in 32 counties throughout the state.
Richardson has been in law enforcement since 2006 and started his career as a patrolman for the Sistersville Police Department. He joined the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office in 2009.