Treasure Coast school resource officers prepared to keep children safe

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 6:00 PM EDT
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A new school year starts bright and early Wednesday, and safety is always top of mind.

Tragedies like the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas have put an added emphasis on the role of school police and school resource officers.

On the eve of a new school year, Officer Adrienne Pietrzak is ready.

"I’m the manager of this mini city I have to keep safe," Pietrzak said.

Ready to listen to the kids as they flood the courtyard at St. Lucie West Centennial High School.

"Because I’m a part of their every day, I want them to come to me with anything," Pietrzak said.

Aware that recent history has heightened her role.

"Before it would be, I’m here if you need me, come find me. Now I’m out in the open and watching and paying attention to every day activities of the school," Pietrzak said.

And when Pietrzak steps on campus, the present and past merge. Pietrzak was part of the first graduating class at Centennial in 2000 and captain of the soccer team. It was the presence of an school resource officer on campus that got her interested in police work.

"The last time I taught, I taught about all the different jobs in law enforcement," Pietrzak said.

And here she also teaches a criminal justice class.

For these SROs, it’s not just their physical presence to protect the exterior of the campus. It’s also the work they do inside the campus walls.

At Treasure Coast High School, Officer Amanda McCarty has found her passion helping kids, especially those that may need extra help.

"What really drives me is when I have the positive interactions with children. When they see me as a person, not just a police officer," McCarty said.

McCarty is heavy involved with the Treasure Coast High School pantry.

"Sometimes families can’t make it right it now, so it’s nice for us to be able to help those kids," McCarty said.

McCarty said the partnerships with the SROs from the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office are crucial, and as a mother, she assures other parents, that she’ll keep a close watch on her school.

"And that’s our goal every day, to keep this campus safe," McCarty said.

Scripps Only Content 2022