It’s the first week of middle school for two Clayton Police officers.
Officers Aurora Mayo and Scott Holzshu are heading to middle and elementary school as the Clayton Police Department’s first-ever School Resource Officers. The Town of Clayton and the Johnston County’s School Board have partnered through a state grant aimed at increasing safety in schools.
Clayton Middle School, Cooper Academy and West Clayton Elementary welcomed Officer Aurora Mayo on Monday. And Riverwood Middle and Riverwood Elementary Schools opened their arms and doors to Officer Holzshu.
Thanks to the NC School Safety Grants program, several municipalities were able to partner with Johnston County Public Schools to fund the new School Resource Officers in the lower grade schools. The General Assembly appropriated $30 million for fiscal year 2018-2019 of which Johnston County Public Schools received $366,663. The Clayton Town Council approved the partnership just before the holidays. The contract funds the salaries of the two Clayton Police Officers for the next two years.
The School Resource Officer (SRO) Program is designed to promote safety, good student-to-officer interaction, mentorship, guidance, and communication between school personnel, students, parents and police. The officers might assist in anything from traffic control in the mornings to safety programs after school.
“Creating relationships is fundamental,” said Clayton Police Chief Blair Myhand. “This is a great opportunity for us to make a positive impact on young kids during their most formative years: we don’t plan on passing on this one. We are here where it counts and interacting with students in a positive way, eating lunch, working on homework, and letting them see us in a different light. Students have direct access and can talk to the officers every day if they want. One student showed the SRO a couple of card tricks today. Those interactions don’t happen in any other setting. And, if something happens, Officers Mayo and Holzshu will be there and able to react immediately. We know it makes the schools feel safer and we are pretty sure everyone enjoys us being there.”
Chief Myhand says the officers will not take an “arrest first” approach, but rather they are there to assist school administration as a team to address any risk to the safety of the students. He says improving relationships between students and police can bring great benefits and could perhaps prompt some students to consider careers in law enforcement.
“I want to look five years into the future just to see what type of impact these officers have in the lives of our students,” said Chief Myhand.
Both Officers specifically applied for the positions to serve in the schools and received special training for these new assignments.
“Johnston County Public Schools is grateful for this opportunity to strengthen its safety program and looks forward to continuing its partnership with the towns of Benson, Clayton, and Four Oaks police departments,” said Dr. Ross Renfrow, Superintendent of Johnston County Public Schools.