Protecting and educating, Knox’s school resource officers are here for the kids

When a Knox County Sheriff’s Department patrol car shows up at your child’s school, there’s more than knowing they are in safe hands – they are learning valuable lessons, too.

That is the goal of the Knox County Public Schools’ school resource officers (SROs).  “It helps build positive relationships, builds the rapport,” explained Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles.

Sprinkles explained that for the SROs, maintaining a safe learning environment in all the district’s schools is their number one priority.  “Beyond that, we want them to be seen as someone students can trust and go to, talk to, and depend on,” said Sprinkles.

Knox County first started with one SRO serving the district but was able to add two additional positions last school year through federal Title IX funding.  Now, the three officers can divide up among the county and add more educational components to their school visits.

“They will be available to all of our schools, at different times and on different days, but always on-site when needed,” shared Gina Sears, Director of Student Support Services and DPP for the district. “Some schools may need them more than others. They will have a very flexible schedule when not addressing an incident.”

Sears, who has experience with student issues from simple tobacco use in school to threats, is extremely pleased by the three officers hired to serve Knox Schools.  “They bring with them experience and knowledge, it’s a win-win for our students, their families, and the district.”

Who are the School Resource Officers? (Featured in the photo from bottom to top)

School Resource Officers Steve Owens, Mike Broughton, and Patrick Clouse are shown at Central Office.Steve Owens, 21 years of experience in law enforcement

“Our presence in school should be an advertisement,” explained Owens.  “An advertisement to children that we are here for them.  An advertisement to their parents and families that these children are a priority and are important.”

Owens’ time in schools will be more than spending time in the office with school leaders.  “I want the children to know that we aren’t there to walk the hallways, we are there to support them; to take care of them; help with their well-being,” said Owens.

“I am blessed with this opportunity and look forward to the future possibilities of working with students, teachers, and Knox administration on what we can offer.  I hope to provide classroom instruction to students and safety instruction to faculty.”

Mike Broughton, 29 years of experience in law enforcement

“To maintain and foster a safe learning environment for all students and staff,” answered Broughton when asked what message he would want to share with families about having SROs in our schools.

Broughton echos Owens’ response about being there for the children.  “We are there to help and assist the students with issues that they may be facing at school or home,” said Broughton.  In his time serving Barbourville and Knox County, Broughton knows the importance of making students feel comfortable talking to an officer.

“We want the students to feel safe at school,” stated Broughton, going on to state that they should feel safe talking to the officers.  “We are very approachable and willing to help with any issue.”

Patrick “Pat” Clouse, 31 years of experience in law enforcement

With 31 years of experience, SRO Pat Clouse knows the importance of feeling safe and students building a trusting relationship with law enforcement and first responders.

“I would like for the parents to know, just as our title implies, we are also a resource for the students, parents, and families as well,” said Clouse.

“I want students to know that we are in the schools for them.  Not only for their protection but also as a resource for them with whatever they may need.  I want them to be able to see us as their friend, to project a positive image to them and earn their trust and respect.”

Like Owens and Broughton, Clouse also looks forward to providing students with lessons and staff with training on safety, inside and outside the classroom.

If you have questions about the Knox County Public Schools’ school resource officers, you may contact Central Office at (606)546-3157.  You may also talk directly to them when visiting your child’s school.