PRO program makes lasting impression on students
When Superintendent C.C. Lester was a principal in Nicholas County, he implemented the PRO (Prevention Resources Officer) program at Richwood High School. Now, Lester is hoping to bring the program into Pocahontas County High School.
The PRO program places a law enforcement officer in the school to offer support and education to students. While the officer is a member of the sheriffﾒs department, he is much more to the students.
Former PRO and current Nicholas County Magistrate Wayne Plummer was an officer at RHS for two years.
ﾓI was there for the bus arrivals, I had lunch duty and was in the hallways during the changing of classes,ﾔ Plummer said. ﾓI also taught classes about domestic violence, bullying and character development.ﾔ
Along with teaching specialized classes, Plumber was a mentor to the students. They came to him with issues they had, whether they were school-related or problems at home.
It took the teens some time to warm up to Plummer, but once they did, he said they came to trust and appreciate him.
ﾓAt first, I donﾒt think they were crazy about it but expected to have me there by the end of the first nine weeks,ﾔ he said. ﾓThey sought me out. They didnﾒt treat me the way they treated the teachers. They never disrespected me.ﾔ
Plummer became such a huge part of the school, that he attended field trips, all the ballgames and eventually took his turn as a football coach.
The program not only made an impression on the students, but on Plummer as well.
ﾓIt was a good experience for me,ﾔ he said. ﾓI still see the kids all the time and they call me at home. When one of them had a child, he called me to tell me. When I was chief deputy, I hired one of the students as a deputy.ﾔ
Plummer said the program was so successful, Nicholas County now has a PRO at both high schools and both middle schools.
ﾓThere is no doubt in my mind the school is safer with the officer there,ﾔ he said.
For some, it is hard to see past having an armed officer at the school, but Plummer said his purpose wasnﾒt to make arrests or to scare the students.
ﾓIf I caught a kid, I would take him straight to the principal,ﾔ he said. ﾓI would only bring charges at the request of the principal.ﾔ
During the summer, the PRO returns to the sheriffﾒs department and duty on the road, but he works with only the juvenile cases.
With his time at the school behind him, Plummer said he wouldnﾒt trade those two years for anything.
ﾓIf I was asked to return to the sheriffﾒs department, I would tell them I want to be placed in the schools,ﾔ he said.