by Kate Evans
Morgan County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Paul McFarland started as the new Morgan County Schools Prevention Resource Officer (PRO Officer) on August 14 when teachers returned to school.
He takes the position previously held by Corporal Kevin Barney of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, who retired as Prevention Resource Officer earlier this year after 16 years of service.
McFarland has a total of 28 years in law enforcement, with 20 of those years with the Winchester Police Department. He spent 10 years of his service there as a School Resource Officer. McFarland is retired from the Winchester Police Department.
Before his time with the Winchester Police Department, Deputy McFarland worked as a police officer in Middletown, Virginia for three years and also as a Frederick County, Virginia Sheriff’s Department deputy for five years.
McFarland graduated from the Police Academy in 1995. Law enforcement was something he wanted to try, he said.
McFarland went to Prevention Resource Officer school from July 31-August 4. He also brings his 10 years of experience as a School Resource Officer in Virginia to the job.
PRO Officer position
The Prevention Resource Officer’s responsibilities in the schools include prevention, safety, education, mentoring and performing law enforcement functions in the school setting.
The Prevention Resource Officer program is funded annually through a grant and also supplemented by funding from the Morgan County School Board and the Morgan County Commission. The Sheriff’s Department funds all non-salary expenses, which include travel, training, gasoline, equipment, uniforms, supplies, a vehicle and vehicle maintenance.
Covers all schools
Deputy McFarland is primarily based at Berkeley Springs High School as Prevention Resource Officer, and secondarily serves Warm Springs Middle School, but he responds to incidents and issues at every Morgan County school and looks in on each school regularly.
McFarland said he spends a lot of time at Warm Springs Intermediate School and checks on Paw Paw Schools a lot. He also just visited with students at the Great Cacapon pre-K/Head Start program. He said that Morgan County Sheriff K. C. Bohrer encourages the deputies to visit the schools and do walk-throughs.
McFarland said that the School Resource Officer and the Prevention Resource Officer positions are pretty much the same and that he did the same job in Virginia. The position is mainly providing a safe and secure school environment.
McFarland monitors the hallways in between class changes and handles anything law enforcement-related. What he deals with ranges from student fights and brawls to threats and drugs. He’s had quite a few vape cases at Berkeley Springs High School and Warm Springs Middle School so far, but none at Paw Paw Schools. Otherwise there has been nothing major he’s handled.
McFarland said he hasn’t seen any bullying at the high school. The middle school has some issues with it, but staff takes care of it there.
Classroom presentations and assemblies will be part of his duties later in the year.As a PRO, McFarland is at the schools unless there’s a big police emergency where Sheriff Bohrer needs his help. McFarland said he was on his way back from Paw Paw Schools when the recent domestic incident and arrest at the middle school occurred.
McFarland said he’s still getting settled into the job and learning the ropes and that he’s happy to be here. His wife Lena McFarland is the Special Education IEP Coordinator for Morgan County Schools.
Enjoys the schools and kids
McFarland said he enjoys working with kids and working in the school environment. He also enjoys the people that work here. From School Superintendent Kristen Tuttle to the teachers, he said “everyone is helpful and supportive.”
“It’s good to have a good backing. A good administration makes the job a whole lot better,” McFarland noted.