Differences hold up final approval for Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office SROs

BEAUFORT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) -An Eastern Carolina sheriff’s office and school system are only a few months away from being reunited as partners with deputies set to serve as school resource officers next school year. However, there’s still a hold-up in the approval process.

Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputies will be seen on every campus within the school system in the coming months as their office prepares to regain school resource officer duties again after three years.

While there’s much excitement about the partnership renewal, some on the board of education aren’t quite ready to celebrate due to concerns with Sheriff Scott Hammonds’ plan for the SRO positions.

“If students aren’t there on a teacher workday, then they don’t intend to be there?,” said Beaufort County Schools Vice Chairman, Terry Williams. “You need to go back and renegotiate this MOU because I’m not agreeing to that.”

A few months ago, Hammonds was asked by the school board to put together a memorandum of understanding, outlining his plan to hire 12 deputy SROs for the 2024-2025 school calendar year to replace Allied Universal, who’d been serving as the school system’s SROs since 2020.

During a meeting Tuesday night, the school board reviewed the MOU from Hammonds as there was some concern about when SROs would be present.

“The phrase district is open for business is where we’re stuck,” said Beaufort County Schools Superintendent, Matthew Cheeseman. “The sheriff believes when students are present that’s when SROs should be present.”

Some school board members say they would like to see SROs present at their schools when just staff is on campus as well because they’re just as important.

“I want to know are the boots on the ground when my teachers and principals are in that school,” Williams said.

The board held off on voting to approve Sheriff Hammonds’ MOU. They’ve tabled the discussion until they and Hammonds can agree on when SROs will be present at schools.

Hammonds says all 12 SROs are hired and will be trained to begin working on July 1st when the new school calendar year begins.