New SRO Oliver at Forrest High School

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CHAPEL HILL - Forrest High School's new school resource officer is the former detective sergeant who'd been leading Lewisburg's Criminal Investigation Division.

SRO Jimmy Oliver began patrolling the school's halls, rooms, parking lots and grounds on Monday morning. He was put on the sheriff's payroll on Sunday. Sheriff Les Helton said on Thursday that Oliver is his man.

"With his experience, he ought to be able handle whatever comes up," Chief Deputy Billy Lamb said Monday.

Oliver succeeds Eli Stuard who's now a Cornersville Police officer.

Oliver might be best known among Lewisburg residents as the sergeant who resigned after conflict with a subordinate in the detective division, but Lamb said Oliver has also been a DARE officer, so he might again teach lessons from the Drug Awareness Resistance and Education program.

"There were 11 who passed the civil service test," Lamb said of the selection process for new employees at the Sheriff's Department. "Out of those we interview the top five and he was picked out of the top five."

Records show Oliver is being paid $14.98 an hour, the highest rate possible for a county SRO. That generates an annual salary of $32,716.32.

That's a modest reduction in pay from what he was being paid as a detective sergeant, Oliver said, but he took a philosophical view of the situation.

"At the city, I was driving my own vehicle," he said. "Here, I'm provided one. It probably works out ... It's according to how you look at it.

"I'm fortunate," Oliver continued. "Forrest is a good school. The students are good. From talking with the principal, there are not many problems..."

His duties include "making sure everybody gets in and doesn't show out as they drive across the parking lot," Oliver said. He also looks for "laggers" in the lot after the school bell rings.

County SROs work as patrol deputies during the summer, Lamb said.

"They come back and work for us and work the road like the rest of us," he said. "It gives us an extra man. It helps us out a lot."

Lamb agreed that the SROs are important.

"There's no doubt about it," the chief deputy said. "Dealing with the kids, the parents and the security of the school, you always hope that nothing happens but if it does, it's an important job."

Meanwhile, Oliver will "still be investigating," he chief said. "He'll investigate things at school."

Oliver waved to some of the students who were driving across the parking lot. He explained some were students in his wife's third grade class several years ago. He's mentioned that and the fact that Chapel Hill has been his home as reasons to anticipate success in his new job.