For many students it's just the end of another school year, but for me the last year has been quite a journey. I was selected as a school resource officer (SRO) and assigned to the Investigations Division of the Lodi Police Department early last year. SRO's work closely with the elementary, middle, and high schools in the Lodi Unified School District. Aside from enforcing laws in and around the school campuses, SRO's act as mentors, role models, friends and teachers.
My first priority is to provide a uniform presence on campus and assist school administrators with the criminal aspect of incidents on or near the school grounds. Some of the most common issues on or near the campuses include thefts, fights, and traffic or parking issues. While I make arrests when necessary, I find the other parts of my job the most rewarding.
The students look to the SRO's for guidance and I value my position of influence. One moment I may be issuing a citation, and the next I may be counseling a student regarding poor decision making. Oftentimes I may try to teach a lesson by sharing a story from my past or explaining a mistake I have made. This is a role that takes a lot of patience and compassion.
In some aspects, this job comes easily to me because I looked up to police officers as a child. I was raised by a single mother and made my share of mistakes which led to consequences. Remembering my youth, I always try to treat our students with the understanding that they will sometimes make mistakes, bad decisions or poor choices. Many times I hope and feel that taking the time to speak with them about consequences and being responsible for their own actions helps them grow. I try and use my experience as a father of two to provide a positive influence on the students I come across.
The SRO's have spent many hours creating partnerships with school administrators, teachers and parents which have been extremely successful. The job they do is just as difficult as mine, but equally rewarding. We continue to teach the G.R.E.A.T. curriculum which educates youth about the dangers of gang membership and reinforces good decision making.
I have enjoyed meeting, talking and getting to know the many students from the schools I have worked with, and count this year as the most rewarding in my career. I look forward to next year.