Law officer to focus attention on Lawrence County schools

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, August 1, 2000

MONTICELLO — A law enforcement veteran will be spending much ofhis time in schools here this year.

Chris Cox of Carmel was hired by the Lawrence County Sheriff’sOffice in late July as the county resource officer, according toSheriff Joel Thames.

“Chris will be an asset to our county,” Thames said. “This isone of the goals that I had during the campaign — to make ourschools safer so our children could get the education theydeserve.”

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Cox is a Lawrence County native. He said he left the area in1981 and looked forward to coming back.

“I have family here, so I was glad to come home,” he said.

Cox was certified as a law officer in 1985 and has worked withthe Greenville Police Department and Washington County Sheriff’sOffice, among others.

Thames said he had been talking to Cox about the job since theelection. Cox left the Gulfport Police Department when he acceptedthe position here.

Cox said his job has many dimensions, ranging from publicrelations to crime prevention. He will visit the schools and get toknow the students.

The school visits will not follow a pattern, he said, and he maynot get to each school each week.

“It won’t be as effective if I get into a routine,” Cox said.”We’re trying to stop problems before they start. It will takecommunity and faculty action and support for this to work.”

He said the key times to be at the schools are when the studentsarrive and when school lets out. Those times are when his presencewould be most widely noticed. That does not mean, however, thatthose will be the only times he will appear striding down schoolhallways.

“We’re going to do whatever we can to benefit the school andstudents,” Cox said. “We would like to be a deterrent andpreventative measure to any problems which may develop — beproactive rather than reactive.”

He said this means he must get to know the students.

“Hopefully, it builds a better rapport between school-agechildren and law enforcement officers,” Cox said. “They get to seean officer as more of a person rather than just someone who pullsthem over for speeding. Hopefully it makes them feel that they cantalk to an officer rather than being leery of them. I’ve seen itworking as an officer in other areas.”

Public relations is important to any aspect of law enforcement,he said. He said officers can’t enforce the laws by themselves,they need public support.

Thames said Cox’s role is more than that of a traditionaldeputy.

“He will not only be a deputy, but will also serve as acounselor to our kids and help them combat peer pressure and otherproblems,” he said.