School Resource Officers Build Bonds and Protect Children | News, Sports, Jobs
ALPENA — Keeping children safe starts with relationships, says a police officer ready to stand between the students and danger.
Recently in the limelight after several school shootings, school resource officers patrol campuses to ward off potential threats.
It requires getting to know – and caring about – the students and allowing them to see the human behind the uniform, said Officer Adam David, SRO at Alpena High School.
Leaving Alpena shortly to move to another state, David has only served one school year at AHS, following the recent retirement of SRO Jim Marquardt.
That year taught him the value of a friendly smile, a listening ear, and a willingness to get a little silly as he forged bonds with students — bonds that could yield that life-saving advice. , David said.
Last week, APS jointly sent a letter with local law enforcement officials to state legislators, asking the state to cover the costs of placing school resource officers in high schools and colleges. from Michigan.
A June 1 letter from Alpena Public Schools and local law enforcement officials to state lawmakers appears below. The story continues below the document.
Alpena Public Schools June 1 letter to lawmakers regarding school resource officers by Julie Riddle on Scribd
School districts across the state have suggested the same addition to the state’s 2022-23 fiscal year budget.
The need for increased security measures in schools was underscored on May 24 when a school shooting in Texas left 19 students and two teachers dead.
While some criticized police action in the shooting, police credit a school resource officer with helping arrest an attacker minutes after the suspect opened fire at Oxford High School in November, killing four students and injuring seven people.
In Alpena, an officer from the Alpena Police Department serves as the on-campus police liaison at Alpena High School, while the Alpena County Sheriff’s Office provides an officer to work at the school Thunder Bay Secondary.
At first eyeing the new officer on campus warily, the students quickly accepted David, waving at him as he lingered in the hallways and dunking him in the year-end water balloon fight, the officer said.
To gain the students’ trust, he began to wear a polo shirt instead of a uniform and to spend his lunch hours in open spaces where passing students could see and approach him.
Opening the doors for communication with students is as important for an SRO as standing guard at the gates, because students are closest to the information the police might need to protect the school, David said.
The National Association of School Resource Officers website shares many stories of likely school shootings averted thanks to information students shared with SROs.
During the school year that just ended, schools in Alpena and elsewhere in the region responded with closures or other actions when students informed their SROs about threats they had heard or thought they heard.
When students feel comfortable walking into his office to tell him about their day or share a frustration, he builds a foundation that makes them feel safe telling him about a threat or revealing something. harm that has happened to them or a friend, David said.
Earlier this school year, David had to physically restrain a student when an incident got out of control.
This student is now joking with David, comfortably wrapping an arm around the officer’s shoulder, David said.
Being in the presence of students day in and day out helps her to respond appropriately, knowing if a student needs a firm response or if they “just need a half-second pause,” said said David.
Critics say police on campus are causing too many arrests or even making schools less safe.
But police officers in school buildings teach students that the police can be a trusted ally, David said.
David’s involvement in school life, his friendly demeanor and constant presence help students open up to him, said Natlie Koproski, a junior at Alpena High School.
“He’s just like, ‘Hey guys, what’s up? How was your weekend?’ Koproski said at school this week.
“But he’s serious when he needs to be serious,” second Wyatt Smith said.
“I’ve never seen that,” freshman Ryker McConnell joked, teasing the officer.
Local police regularly organize active shooter training in schools. Several training sessions of this type are planned for this summer.
If a real shooter shows up at David’s school, his job is simply “to stop the shooter,” the officer said.
“I’m sure it will be ‘scary,’ he said. “But that’s what I have to do.”
In a perfect world, every school would house a school resource officer, David said.
In December, the Michigan House passed a bill that would increase state appropriations for school resource officers from $10 million to $50 million.
This bill is now awaiting approval by a Senate committee.
Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @jriddleX.