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Lincoln County introduces new SRO Commander

By Brad Smith
LC Schools Communications Coordinator

STANFORD — The bogus internet threat for Kentucky schools that circulated this past week served as a wake-up call early on this school year. Safety is, and always will be, of utmost importance for Lincoln County Schools. Being able to reassure stakeholders that their children are safe in their educational setting is a top priority.

School security in Lincoln County has been headed up by the City of Stanford Police Department since 2013. The division that handles school safety is staffed by School Resource Officers (SROs). Linda Cook retired as SRO Commander this past August, opening the door for Preston Middleton to take over as SRO Commander.

Commander Middleton has been employed by the Stanford Police Department since 2011. He is a graduate of the Department of Criminal Justice Training and is certified in the areas of rapid deployment, firearms instruction, driving range instruction, SRO and K-9 handling. Commander Middleton had previous experience filling in as an SRO last spring and realized he really liked working with the school system that he attended.

“I’m a graduate of Lincoln County High School, and being back in the school that gave me my education made me think, I can give back to them in what I’ve learned since leaving here, and here we are, giving Lincoln County Schools protection,” said Middleton.

Commander Middleton is assisted by his K-9 Nico and School Resource Officer Ray Sayre. K-9 Nico has worked with Commander Middleton since 2016. Nico is trained to detect illegal drugs, so having him assist at the schools is a major asset.

SRO Sayre covers Waynesburg, Highland, Stanford, Hustonville and Crab Orchard Elementary Schools daily. Commander Middleton and K-9 Nico are stationed at and patrol the campus of Lincoln County High School and Lincoln County Middle School. The daily mission of a School Resource Officer is to secure the safety and well-being of all students and faculty.

“We perform perimeter checks on school grounds, carry out exterior and interior door checks, patrol hallways, and investigate threats and crimes for all the schools. We are on duty from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday, but with this job your hours may change as you are needed depending on specific situations,” said Middleton.

The School Resource Officers also have outside assistance available from other members of the City of Stanford Police Department, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and Kentucky State Police. When a potential threat arises, the SROs treat it seriously, as exhibited this week. It is in these situations the SROs count on their extended network to provide extra patrol.

Commander Middleton emphasized, “For immediate emergencies on school grounds, always dial 911 and an SRO will be the first to respond. If you need to report a crime, information on a crime, or have general questions you can find me in the administrative offices of Lincoln County High School. But for the most part, I’m roaming the campuses during school hours. Any school administrator can also contact me at any time via radio.”