VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – When entering any of the 28 schools in Vigo County, a visitor is first greeted and checked in by a school protection officer.
According to VCSC Communications Director Bill Riley, SPOs are the school’s first set of eyes and ears.
“They’re kind of looking out for behavior that needs to be investigated perhaps,” he said.
There are 40 Special Deputy SPOs.
“These are people with limited arrest power,” explained Riley. “So they have arrest powers within a mile of the school and only during school hours.”
Former law enforcement experience is required to fill this position, and the arrest powers are given to the Special Deputies only by the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department.
“We have retired police officers. We have some that are still current that work off duty. Deputies, police officers and there’s some prior military people that are school protection officers,” said Sheriff John Plasse. “As well as retired prison employees.”
An additional 25 SPOs are active duty law enforcement, and all 65 are armed.
“They have about six trainings per year on their firearm, just their firearm,” said Riley.
SPOs are the first line of defense for students and staff, but they also make time to encourage students throughout the day.
“They look for us for advice and hopefully look at us as a role model,” said Plasse.