Sanford Police School Resource Officers

School Resource Officers (SROs) have become an integral part of communities across the nation and around the world. Schools are smaller communities within the overall community and because of the concentration of children staff and parents in one location; it only makes sense to provide them with law enforcement services on a regular and reliable basis.

The duties of a school resource officer are often misunderstood. The most common misconception is that an SRO is posted as an armed guard at the entrance of a school to guard against Columbine type incidents. An SRO's duties and responsibilities are far more comprehensive and require much more integration with the daily activities within a school or school system.

Almost all SRO programs operate under a triad approach incorporating three main areas of work:

  1. Traditional law enforcement duties (i.e. traffic enforcement, criminal investigations)
  2. Law enforcement based counseling (i.e. conflict resolution, drug and alcohol use, personal safety)
  3. Law enforcement based education (i.e. presentations in sociology classes, accident reconstruction in math, bicycle safety)

Some other examples of issues dealt with by school resource officers are as follow:

  • Parent custody disputes
  • Crisis Response Planning
  • Safety Management Planning
  • Health education
  • Liaison between the schools and police department
  • Mentoring

The most successful SRO programs involve long term relationships developed between the SRO and the school. The SRO needs to be able to work well with the school staff and administration, students, parents, community leaders and the community itself.

A large percentage of the SRO's time is spent dealing with issues that do not occur in or around the school. Many students will go to the SRO about problems at home or in his/her neighborhood. They may go to the SRO with personal issues such as thoughts of suicide, pregnancy, drug or alcohol use and a myriad of other difficulties. The long term relationship developed with the SRO allows the student to feel comfortable enough to talk to the SRO when it may otherwise have never been addressed in the first place.

Sanford utilizes the services of two full-time SROs in the public school system. Sanford SROs are full-time certified police officers employed by the Sanford Police Department. SRO Michael Gordon is assigned to Sanford High School, Sanford Regional Vocational Center, and the Lincoln School. The three facilities combine for a total of approximately 1,500 students. Over 1,300 students attend the high school alone. Officer Gordon can be contacted at

SRO Michael Thornton is assigned to the Willard School and the Sanford Junior High School. The two schools total approximately 1,200 students. SRO Thornton has been an SRO since 2005 and has been a police officer since 1987. Officer Thornton can be contacted at

Links (National Association of School Resource Officers) (National School Safety Center) (National Crime Prevention Council) (Sanford School Department)

School Resource Officers

Michael Thornton:

Michael Gordon: