Editor's note: This is the first in a three-part series.
Brent Hudson gets plenty of exercise as Curry's new school resource officer.
When he isn't directing morning or afternoon school traffic, Hudson is making his rounds on the campuses of Curry Elementary, Curry Middle and Curry High.
"Right now, I'm walking six miles a day," said Hudson, who has more ground to cover than his SRO counterparts at Lupton Jr. High School and Valley Jr. High School.
While he is on the move, Hudson keeps his cell phone handy so that the administrators and office staff of each school can reach him.
Hudson, who has been with the Walker County Sheriff's Office for 22 and a half years, made the transition to the schools on Feb. 21.
Sgt. Josh Richardson had served as Curry's SRO since late January. Hudson got acclimated to the role by working alongside Richardson for two days before the latter was reassigned to Valley last week.
Hudson started his law enforcement career after serving four years in the United States Air Force. He worked as a jailer for six years before making the move to the patrol division in 2002.
Hudson was a familiar face around Curry even before he became the SRO.
He is a graduate of the school and works security at Yellow Jackets games. Two of his children attend school in Curry; another has already graduated.
"I like a challenge. It's something different from what I've been doing, and it was my way to give back," Hudson said of his decision to volunteer to be Curry's SRO.
Hudson is on campus from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
After working the evening and night shifts for so many years, Hudson jokes that he is still getting used to how many hours the sun is out between sunrise and sunset.
For the remainder of the school year, Hudson's focus will be on providing basic security at the three schools. However, after he and the other SROs become officially certified this summer, he expects to return in August with some ideas for classroom interaction.
He would be more than willing to be a D.A.R.E. instructor when Smith decides the time is right.
"I'm a believer in D.A.R.E., especially with the younger children. Our long-term goal is to help these kids make smarter decisions. You may not see the impact right away, but certainly by the time they get to high school, we want them to be making good decisions, Hudson said.
He added that one of the misconceptions about SROs, especially among high schoolers, is that their goal is to make arrests.
"We're not here to put people jail. If it comes to that, it comes to that, but we're here to keep them out of jail by making smarter decisions. We're not here to snitch or as an intimidation tactic. Even though they have counselors, there are opportunities for informal mentoring. We're really here trying to help them stay out of the system," Hudson said.
Walker County Sheriff Nick Smith and Walker County Schools Superintendent Joel Hagood recently reached an agreement to put deputies at the three county schools not covered by a municipal police department.
The Walker County Board of Education will pay for two of the three salaries as well as the cost of training.
Deputies began patrolling Curry, Valley and Lupton schools after the Parkland, Florida school shooting, but this agreement is the first to place SROs in each school full-time.
"This is an example of what we can accomplish when both agencies work together," Hagood said.
Smith said assigning SROs to Curry, Valley and Lupton fulfills a campaign promise he made.
"Now that we're done with Phase One, it's time to look at Phase Two, which would be placing an SRO in all county schools," Smith said.
He added that he has already had a conversation with Cordova Mayor Drew Gilbert about assigning a deputy to the Cordova schools. The Cordova Police Department has had an SRO since 2016, but the department is currently in a state of transition.