The start of the school year is always a busy time for faculty, students and staff. In Norton this year, it's an especially busy time for police, as they continue to work to designate an officer to the two city schools.
"We have been applying for a school resource officer for approximately three years now," said police chief, James Lane said. "I just feel it's crucial because the officer can help build the rapport with the students, staff, the parents, and hopefully help change a child's life while doing his or her job."
The Department of Criminal Justice Services issued Norton a grant allowing them to hire an officer full-time.
"I take very seriously the responsibility of keeping our students safe," said Norton Schools Superintendent, Keith Perrigan. "I've worried for the last couple of years that we didn't have that line of defense in our schools."
The newly-assigned officer is expected to be in place within the next few weeks. First Sergeant Greg Mays has been in school the first couple of weeks getting to know the students and staff at Norton Elementary and Middle, and John I.Burton High School.
"He is observing students, the staff, so forth, the activities to see where the greatest need is for this officer to be at such and such times or certain times of the day," said Lane.
According to law enforcement, SROs are a crucial part of protecting the community. Washington County just secured a similar grant to hire a new officer, and Wise County just renewed a grant to keep two current officers in schools.
Other jurisdictions are seeing cuts as budgets continue to tighten. Last year, Buchanan County had to cut an officer due to financial constraints.
But in Norton, after ten years, they say they're happy to finally have someone in place.
"This is what we do know, he's not going to be sitting behind a desk in a desk," said Perrigan. "He's going to be out touring the grounds, in the cafeteria, in the hallways."
The grant is valid for one-year, after that term the department can reapply for up to three years.