By Greg Gullberg
August 22, 2013
Valdosta, GA - You might say she's a sort of guardian angel - Keeping a watchful eye over your kids at school.
Officer June Gartman is the new School Resource Officer at Sallas Mahone Elementary in Valdosta.
"The fact I've got someone looking after the children here is very, very encouraging," said Eleanor Clark, parent of a kindergarten student at the school.
Valdosta City Schools has a new crew of SROs this year. They are charged with protecting the schools, kind of like police.
"We've always been vulnerable in the mornings because we have to keep our doors open so that our students can come in," said Principal Gary Glover. "And it's always been in the back of my mind that it would be easy for someone to have access to the building in the mornings."
And the timing couldn't be better. We saw an active shooter at an Atlanta-area elementary school Tuesday. A 20-year-old man fired shots into the floor and exchanged gunfire with officers. Thankfully no one was injured.
Now it's officer Gartman's job to make sure that doesn't happen here.
"I feel very confident that when I drop my child off that everybody in the school has got the children on the forefront of their mind and safety in particular," said Clark.
"This is my tenth year here at Sallas Mahone and I feel safer now than I ever have now that we have an SRO at this school," said Principal Glover.
There are now seven SROs in the school system. They only had four last year. But there are ten schools total. Now school leaders are working to make up the difference. Valdosta Police are hoping City Hall will approve a grant next month to bring in three more SRO's by October.
But one thing's for sure, Officer Gartman has Sallas Mahone well protected.
"I'm not going to mess with her," said Principal Glover.