Ryan Banaszak, director of public safety for the city of Sturgis, said it’s natural to wonder about the role of a school resource officer following a tragedy like that at Oxford High School.
The role is not easily explained.
A school officer is there to respond to crimes within the schools. The officer travels from school to school and responds as needed. Officers receive training through National Association of School Resource Officers.
But there’s a multi-tiered approach to what the position tries to accomplish, Banaszak said. It’s also about building relationships with students.
Sam Watson is school resource officer for Sturgis Public Schools. Previously, Damon Knapp was in that role, and prior to that, it was Banaszak, the first school resource officer in Sturgis, following the end of the D.A.R.E. program.
Each had the job of being mentors to students.
Banaszak said he still sees former students, now adults, from when he was the school resource officer. Building those relationships is crucial, he said. Students can feel more at ease reporting an incident either at home or at school. For many students, meeting their school resource officer might be their first time they encounter a member of public safety.
And it’s not just the school resource officer that’s in the schools, Banaszak said. Other officers from the force also patrol the schools from time to time.
While no one wants to think about an incident like that at Oxford happening even closer to home, Banaszak said having that relationship with students can help with students reporting tips to officials.
“At the end of the day, we want to prevent something like this from happening,” he said.
Banaszak went on to say we’re fortunate in Sturgis to have a school district that values law enforcement and a safe school environment. David Northrop’s position in the district as safety and security supervisor also is an example of this, he said.
This article originally appeared on Sturgis Journal: news-school resource officers-Sturgis Public Schools-Sturgis Police Department