GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Sumner County Sheriff’s Office and Sumner County School Resource Officer (SRO) Division have won the NASRO Model Agency Award, recognizing them as the best in the nation.

The department’s training, policies and standards were all reviewed to receive the prestigious award.

Among their qualifications, all 50 Sumner County schools have at least one SRO in the building, a goal that the district accomplished for the 2022-2023 school year. Plus, in addition to keeping all entrances and exits secured, all classroom doors automatically lock and can only be unlocked with a key card.

The SROs not only monitor these security measures, but also connect with students daily.

For Liberty Creek Elementry SRO, Deputy Thomas Briggs, the role is a passion. He said being an SRO is the greatest job he’s ever had.

“I spend very little time in my office throughout the day,” said Deputy Briggs. “I’m out in the hallways, I’m talking with kids, I’m giving them high-fives, I’m giving them hugs.”

On Wednesday, he read the book “Police in Schools” to a classroom of first-graders. He said it’s an opportunity to teach them at a young age that police are real people who do more than “chase the bad guys.”

“It makes you feel like you’re making a difference and showing the kids a positive interaction with law enforcement before they grow up,” said Deputy Briggs. “It allows us as SROs to connect with kids and show them that police officers don’t have to be scary.”

⏩ Read today’s top stories on

He said these connections range from educational lessons to a simple hello. All of the Sumner County SROs help lead school organizations, clubs, or sports as well.

“It’s part of the SRO triad,” said Briggs. “We’re mentors, we’re teachers, but we’re also police officers.”

Deputy Briggs has children of his own and said he feels great sending them to school knowing there’s an SRO because he knows SROs view each student like they’re family.

“I don’t have just my kids anymore, I have 600+ children that are mine from 7 o’clock in the morning to 3 o’clock in the afternoon,” said Briggs. “They’re my responsibility to keep safe.”

Briggs said he believes SROs have a positive impact on parents as well.

📧 Have breaking come to you: Subscribe to News 2 email alerts

“One of the first things they see is the School Resource Officer,” said Briggs. “It gives people the peace of mind to know that we’re here every single day that these doors are open and we’re protecting kids.”

While the school year is winding down, students have the opportunity to keep up these connections at C.H.A.M.P. Camp, led by the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department. It’s two, week-long sessions for rising 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students.

“C.H.A.M.P. stands for character, honesty, attitude, motivation, and positivity,” said Briggs. “Each day we do lessons on one of the letters of C.H.A.M.P.”

He said it teaches character development while also having some summertime fun.

“It’s a blast for the kids,” said Briggs. “It’s just another good way for our SROs to connect with our student population.”