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'You have to prepare for the what if' | SROs serve as 1st line of defense in school shootings

Part of the job for school resource officers is to mentor and support students. But they also need to be ready to act quickly in times of crisis.

AVON, Ind. — Every day when Officer Richard Craig walks into Avon High School, he’s prepared for the unthinkable.

It's a job he doesn't take lightly. 

“You have to prepare for the ‘what if,’ because many times we are the first responders as an SRO,” said Craig, the lead officer at Avon Schools Police Department. 

It’s something school resource officers are constantly training for, but hope to never experience. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday. 

Craig said he first learned about the tragedy while finishing his day at Avon High School. 

“You envision your own kids. You envision students that you know being afraid and in fear in those types of situations,” he said. “It’s absolutely heart-wrenching. There are truly no words.” 

Craig said he wishes he didn’t have to prepare for those types of situations, but ultimately, it’s the purpose of his job. He said officers are specifically trained for the role and are carefully selected. 

“You have to be prepared to respond to that. You go quickly from being a mentor, a teacher, a counselor to that first responder where you are running towards the threat,” he said. "We spend a tremendous amount of time training." 

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Craig and six other Avon school resource officers are ready to do that for any of the district’s 10,000 students. 

“I am going to treat your child as I would my own and I am going to take care of your child as I would my own. If that means putting their safety in front of my own, that’s what I am here to do,” he said. 

Part of Craig’s job is to also talk to students and be there for support when shootings like this happen. He reminds them to always speak up if they see or hear something. 

RELATED: 'Go in there!' Onlookers urged police to charge into Uvalde school

“If you see something, say something. Tell a trusted adult. Tell a teacher. Tell an administrator. Tell your SRO. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right,” Craig said. 

As much as school resource officers are there to support students, they also serve as the school’s first line of defense. 

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