Being approachable important for Jamestown's school resource officer
Scott Geiszler serving first year as a school resource officer for Jamestown Public Schools.
JAMESTOWN – For the Jamestown Public School District’s school resource officer, being visible is important for students to feel comfortable approaching him.
“If there is an incident that happens, students have the ability to come talk to me about it,” Scott Geiszler said. He said students can also just stop and greet him.
Geiszler spends a lot of his time at the Jamestown High School but he tries to get to the other schools as much as possible.
“I do try to walk the hallways. I will poke my head into a classroom every once in a while and I will say, ‘Hello,’” he said. “I try even at the elementary schools, if I get the opportunity to go down there, I try to step into a classroom.”
As school resource officer, Geiszler provides security, safety and policing resources to students and staff of the Jamestown Public School District. Geiszler is a trained law enforcement officer who worked patrol and investigations when he first started his career with the Jamestown Police Department years ago.
Geiszler is personable, outgoing and able to navigate the challenges that come with the position, according to Adam Gehlhar, principal at Jamestown High School. He said being a school resource officer is a challenging position because the individual needs to have the skills to work with parents, community members and students.
“We always wish that we had more presence but Scott’s presence has been imperative to safety in the school,” he said. “He’s out and visible amongst and around our school and the other schools. … Scott is dedicated to being out, being vigilant and he’s proactive. ”
Being an approachable person, the Jamestown chief of police can see the effectiveness of Geiszler’s personality with the students.
“It’s kind of cool to see the kids come up and flock to him when he shows up at an event somewhere,” Scott Edinger said. “That in turn makes it so the other kids want to approach the rest of us when they see us.”
Geiszler will give high fives to elementary students as they are walking down the hallways as something fun to do.
“You go into the elementary schools, it’s just the neatest thing in the world because all of the kids are smiling, they are always happy to come up and tell me, ‘Guess what I did this weekend,’” he said.
Geiszler started his career in law enforcement with the Jamestown Police Department before moving to the West Coast for about 11 years. He moved back to Jamestown in November 2021.
It’s only his first year as a school resource officer, but Geiszler said being a school resource officer has been very rewarding.
“I saw it as a new challenge, a new opportunity, something I’ve never done before,” he said. “It is a very unique position in law enforcement.”
Edinger said 75% of Geiszler’s salary is covered by the school district and 25% is paid by the Jamestown Police Department.
Geiszler said he takes the security of students and staff members seriously. He said he has discussions with school administrators about school safety and ideas to improve that.
He also teaches classes to elementary students such as how to beware of strangers and Halloween safety.
Gehlhar said Geiszler is invested in the school district’s students and their safety and he keeps the administration informed about any challenges that are happening in the community that might be reflected in the schools. He said Geiszler’s experience, background and knowledge of school safety have been important in helping the school district develop and improve its plans for school safety.
“Obviously, those have been tested out with those hoax situations and helped us really grow in being able to respond to any situation,” he said.
The hoax emergency calls are referenced as “swatting” calls and happen when a report is made to emergency services to bring a large presence of armed law enforcement officers to a specific place.
Edinger said the Jamestown Police Department gets new ideas when someone is hired from another agency. He said Geiszler had some different ideas on how to improve law enforcement’s response to active-shooter incidents.
“We’ve done those in a different way and been more proactive about it,” Edinger said. “It’s made a huge difference.”
Unfortunately, the response plan to an active-shooter scenario has been used in the hoax situations, but Geiszler said he’s impressed with what was in place and how staff members responded. He said a few modifications were made to the plan.
“It showed that we do have a solid plan if the incident were to occur again,” he said, referring to the hoax active-shooter scenarios.
Gehlhar said Geiszler is willing to put in extra time to help during weekend and evening events ensuring everybody’s safety and building relationships.
Geiszler said he attends the events because he enjoys watching the athletic teams play but also everyone’s safety is important to him.
“Nothing says just because we are outside of the school something bad can’t happen,” he said. “When you have such a concentrated group of people, anybody who walks into the school, I take their security and their safety as my personal responsibility, so that’s why I go to those.”
Geiszler said law enforcement is more than just writing a ticket.
“It’s enforcement and education,” he said.
He said some incidents can be handled educationally by talking with a student and letting the individual know why his or her actions are dangerous. He said he always tells students to be a good person.
“Be a good person to yourself, be a good person to your peers,” he said. “That is the best we can do.”
With his position, he also helps students who are in distress or crisis get help from the right people, such as counselors. He said the awareness of mental health has advanced so much compared to when he was a student.
“We have amazing counselors who are engaged with the students,” he said. “The counselors, they work behind the scenes, they deserve all the credit in the world. They are very amazing.”
Geiszler said he has three children who are students in the school district, so he tries to be the school resource officer he wants his kids to have. He also wants to make an impact on students’ lives.
“Maybe there is that one kid, who when he turns 21 years old, maybe he says, ‘I remember that school resource officer. I want to do what he did,’” he said. “That is such a huge compliment if that were to ever happen. It means you touched somebody’s life.”