Best SC school resource officer? She’s from York County, and staff, students love her

A longtime woman deputy from the York County Sheriff’s Office has been named the top school resource officer in South Carolina.

Tonya Bennett was awarded the Eric Bamberg School Resource Officer of the Year for the state in 2019. The award is named for a late officer from the Bamberg Police Department known for his devotion to student and staff safety.

Bennett also won top honors for the upstate region of South Carolina.

Bennett has been with the sheriff’s office for 20 years. For 15 years, she has been the resource officer at Castle Heights Middle School in the Rock Hill school district.

York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said staff and students both respect and love Bennett for her devotion to the school, its people and the safety of all on campus.

“We’re so proud of Tonya’s well-deserved awards,” Tolson said. “I’m so happy to see Tonya’s hard work and dedication pay off.”

Bennett won the awards after she was nominated by school staff. One letter of nomination praised her as “an exemplary individual with a commitment to law enforcement and more importantly to the public in which she serves.”

Staff at the school wanted Bennett to be recognized for her “self-motivation, dependability and determination over the years.”

Police in York County have now won the award two years in a row. In 2018 Rock Hill Police Department Sgt. Mike Johnson won the statewide award as top resource officer in South Carolina.

The sheriff’s office has school resource officers on campuses that are not inside town or city limits covered by other police agencies. Deputies are assigned at two of York County’s high schools, three middle schools and one elementary school.

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