Six years after being assigned the post of school resource officer for Elkin City Schools, Officer Kevin Ray Hall has received his certificate for completing the SRO Certificate Program through the North Carolina Justice Academy.
Hall joined the Elkin Police Department in July 2005, and then when former SRO Mendy Peles was promoted to another division, Hall applied for the SRO position and started in that role in the 2009-10 school year.
“I like working with the kids. I worked with kids at youth group and Bible school and through plays at church,” said Hall of his interest in the youth of Elkin. “They are our future, and I thought I would like to work with them.”
He said now years down the road from when he began, he has students approach him about his role in their childhood, and he has one of his Elkin graduates going through the Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program at Surry Community College.
“It is the best job in the department,” Hall said of being school resource officer. “The road officers run calls and do paperwork and make arrests, so they see an end to the means. In this job, it’s not always like that.”
Some students Hall gets to know quickly, because they get in trouble. Others he gets to know because they will approach him and talk to him, and he gets to learn their personalities, and then he said there are those who are quiet.
As SRO, part of Hall’s duties include teaching the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) class to the sixth-graders at Elkin Elementary School, so he has a chance to get to know the students before they move up to the middle and high school campus, which is a combined campus.
Earning an SRO Certificate takes a lot of work and many hours of course work, Hall explained, noting that it requires 400 hours of class time, time spent outside of his duties at work to gain the certification.
“After I started as SRO, they sent me to a week-long camp at the Justice Academy,” Hall said. “I tried to get my required classes in during the summer time, and the last couple of summers, they were duplicate classes I’d already had.”
This past summer, Hall decided to go for his general instructor training, which put him over the 400-hour threshold to qualify him for the SRO Certificate. Now, he also will be spending time as a part-time instructor in the BLET program at SCC.
Hall said he enjoys his time as SRO at Elkin High School, because “with smaller numbers you get to know the kids and keep an eye on them.
“We’re fortunate to have the students we have here. I’m not saying they’re all perfect, but it is nothing compared to some of the larger schools,” he said of the incidents which arise at times. “We have the same problems as everybody else, just not as many.
“If people only knew what the counselors and SROs know, it would break their hearts,” Hall said of the students’ home lives and challenges they face outside of school. He said it does help knowing what’s going on outside of school though, because then he is able to help the teachers understand why a student might be acting out.
“It is a neat job. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve never wanted to go back on the road.”
Part of Hall’s job includes community-oriented policing. He talks to children at area preschools and helps work weekend events like the Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival. He is the advisor to the school’s SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) Club, which is very active this year and includes planning events like Prom Promise and Red Ribbon Week activities.
He also serves as Elkin’s representative on the Safe Kids Surry County executive board and is a member of the Surry County Child Protective Team.
“With the interaction with the kids, the club, teaching DARE and my other activities, I stay very busy,” Hall said of his on-duty tasks.
Outside of work, Hall is a volunteer firefighter with Ronda, which is part of what led him into law enforcement. “I’ve been a volunteer firefighter since I was 16. I used to be in State Road. I kept running medical calls with overdoses and other issues, and I said somebody needs to do something, and then I said hey why not you,” he said.
“Now I get to help teach the kids to get where I am,” Hall said of being a BLET instructor.
He said being SRO is a good job, and he’ll “be glad to look back and know I did the right thing and made a difference.”
Hall was one of 162 officers to receive the SRO Certificate since the program’s inception, according to information from the Justice Academy. The program is designed to recognize the achievement of law enforcement professionals who have dedicated themselves to making the schools safer for the state’s citizens.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.