Richland deputies greeted more than 100 students with high fives and fist bumps at a Northeast Richland elementary school on Friday as part of an effort to help them build trust with law enforcement.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott rolled out “High Five Fridays,” a program where deputies greet and take pictures with students. The program, which kicked off at Conder Arts Integrated Magnet School, is set to continue through the remainder of the school year at different locations, said Lt. Verlon Rhodes, who supervises the department’s school resource officers.
“It’s our opportunity to come out to encourage kids to have a wonderful academic day in school,” Rhodes said. “It helps greatly to have someone give you some positive encouragement during the day.”
During the Friday roll out, some still-sleepy students courteously greeted very cheery deputies, while other students could not wait to walk up to slap them with their best high five.
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Deputy Dorris Taylor, the school’s resource officer, said the students at Conder make her feel like she’s on the red carpet every day with their hugs and greetings. The school’s student body is roughly of 900, and she has been assigned there since the start of the school year.
Taylor, who has been a deputy since 2009, said she visits classrooms every day to interact with the children more frequently. She said she loves how her job allows her to make a difference in their lives.
“If they take my babies away from me, that’s like taking away my gun and badge,” said Taylor, who is also a mother of three.