NUTTER FORT, W.Va. (WBOY) — A new Harrison County Sheriff’s Department position has been created to help keep a pair of elementary schools safer.

The Harrison County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday afternoon that it would be adding a Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) to Nutter Fort Primary and Norwood Elementary schools. It’s the first elementary school-specific PRO in West Virginia.

Sheriff Robert Matheny said it took months of collaborating to figure out how the new PROs salary and benefits would be paid for, but that the County Commission sealed the deal by agreeing to pay the extra expenses such as benefits, uniform costs and vehicle maintenance.

“The Board of Education provides the lion’s share of the funding to create another position for deputy sheriff because we backfill,” said Harrison County Sheriff Robert Matheny. “We don’t—by putting a deputy in this position we don’t lose a deputy from road patrol or a detective out of the drug unit or a detective out of criminal investigation unit, so this is an addition of a personnel.”

Harrison County Superintendent Dora Stutler explained that this is the first PRO in West Virginia that is dedicated specifically to serving an elementary school. “We currently have them in our middle and high schools,” she said. “For elementary, it’s going to be just a great role model and just to be in the presence of having an officer in the building and they get to know them as a community member and someone they can ask questions of and not be, you know, the big mean officer. So I’m hoping they just integrate into the community here  and become part of the school.”

Harrison County Commission President Susan Thomas said that while she hopes the school never needs to use the extra defense, PROs are important, even for younger students.

“Well, when Robert first called me about this I thought this is a no-brainer. I mean, you don’t want to see it in the elementary schools, but I think it will be very good. Like we said here today, my husband was a DARE officer, and I know they’re needed in the schools and elementary schools.”

Matheny expects the new PRO to be selected and spending time at the two schools by early next year. The county also announced that it will be bringing back the DARE program into the schools as soon as possible.