Police officer to work at Jamestown Public SchoolsThe one thing the police officer who will be assigned to the Jamestown Public Schools is not is a guard. Instead, according to Jamestown High School Principal Bill Nold, the school resource officer is a staff member there to help students.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The one thing the police officer who will be assigned to the Jamestown Public Schools is not is a guard. Instead, according to Jamestown High School Principal Bill Nold, the school resource officer is a staff member there to help students.
“An SRO should be a confidant and friend to the kids,” he said. “A prevention and education piece in the mix at the schools. If you’re driving and see a Highway Patrol (vehicle) you slow down and drive more cautiously. The presence of an officer in the schools will help prevent problems by making everyone act a little more cautiously.”
The Jamestown Police Department hopes to see a similar benefit.
“One of the goals is to cut down on the police responses to the school,” said Dave Donegan, police chief. “Our hope is to see that cut in half.”
Donegan said police officers had responded to about 475 calls to Jamestown Schools from August 2006 to April 6, 2009. The calls ranged from parking lot accidents and dog calls on the school grounds to assaults and occasionally controlled substances such as alcohol, tobacco or drugs.
Nold believes Jamestown is one of the last large schools in North Dakota to implement the school resource officer program.
“Jamestown was a little slow getting into it,” he said. “I wish we’d have had it years ago but we can’t change that, we just need to go ahead.”
While Donegan and Nold believe the presence of a school resource officer in the school changes behavioral patterns they also hope the officer builds relationships with the students.
“By having an officer there every day you build trust,” Donegan said. “The officer needs to interact with students, faculty and parents.”
Nick Hardy, a four-and-a-half year veteran of the Jamestown Police Department, was chosen for the position after an interview process that involved police and school officials.
“I look at the job as bridging a gap between the kids and the PD,” Hardy said. “A big part is trust building. There will always be a gap between the kids and the cops but hopefully we bridge part of it with this program.”
Hardy will have offices in both the senior high and middle school, Nold said. He will split his time between those schools as well as the elementary schools.
“He’ll be plenty busy,” Nold said. “We’ve got a lot for him to do including traffic patrol around the schools.”
Donegan estimated Hardy will spend between 70 and 80 percent of his time during the school year at the senior high and middle school with the rest spent at the elementary schools. He will return to regular patrol duty during the summer months.
The SRO program was approved by the Jamestown City Council and the School Board about five months ago. Hardy said his duties at the schools will start in early October and include some training and spending time with school resource officers in other schools in North Dakota.
The program was made possible by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice which will pay the wages of a new officer to handle the patrol duties previously assigned to Hardy.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org