School SRO New This Year
October 15, 2018
If you were not already aware, our school hired a school resource officer (SRO) this school year.
According to NASRO, or the National Association of School Resource Officers, the definition of a school resource officer is a law enforcement officer whom an employing police department sent to work within a district or school.
According to our SRO Detective Richard Blais, “a school resource officer is someone who is here to provide a safe environment while also being someone to be comfortable talking to about problems and to go to for advice.”
The overall purpose of having an SRO at our school district is for students and staff to feel and be safer at school. He attends things like school dances and football games for security.
Blais is the SRO for the entire district and goes to each school for different school functions and events. In addition to ensuring our safety, his other purpose at this school is also to teach and provide counseling to students.
This is our SRO’s first year at this district; previously, he has experience as a police officer at the Southern Regional Police Department for ten years and was in the army for eight years .
Blais has also trained other police officers about topics like driving under the influence (DUI) and drug investigations.
As an SRO, Blais has some personal goals to achieve, like developing a more friendly relationship with the student body, almost like a mentor, and being someone that students would come to talk to about problems at home or with other people.
In order to become an SRO, Blais had to attend a special training to become certified. The class was a week long and it taught officers how to teach and interact with students.
According to Blais, a typical day starts when the high school students arrive; he visits lunches and walks around the school and makes sure that there are no problems. He has these same responsibilities for every school in the district.
Throughout the district, students and teachers feel more comfortable coming to school knowing that an SRO is at our school. Blais said, “ Many teachers and students have told me how happy they are that I’m here and some have mentioned about feeling safer.”
Students from the elementary school also enjoy seeing him. The students will ask him questions like “what’s on your belt?” and “is that a taser?”
In addition to all the work he is doing as an SRO, Blais also reached out to teachers to let them know he could teach a variety of class topics. Recently, he taught gym teacher Amy Fisher’s girls gym class self-defense.
Fisher said, “I think this self-defense class was a great opportunity for my students. The SRO went over a lot of information that students were not aware of and probably have never thought about before he mentioned it. The opportunity to learn some moves/concepts to keep yourself safe is priceless. If one person changes a behavior or feels more confident in their ability to protect themselves, then the class was definitely worth it.”
Before starting within the district, Blais knew he was up against some preconceived stereotypes about police officers.
Blais said, “There is a very large and fast moving anti-police movement based on whatever viewpoints individuals are latching onto. This is disturbing and a lot of this starts with younger citizens becoming impressioned by or raised with negative beliefs.”
As a result, Blais has a goal to hopefully improve some of the negative views towards police officers. Blais said, “ I have a goal to make it into classrooms and get into discussions with the students about some of these problems and complaints about how I and and all other officers do this job.”
Ironically, going into this job, Blais had some pessimistic views on the general student population because of his past as a patrolman.
Blais said, “ Unfortunately, working the street as a patrolman or detective you become a pessimist with regards to the criminal element being present in the general population because you routinely deal with that group of people.”
Of course, since coming to our district, Blais has been happy with what he has seen of the students. “It is satisfying to know that the majority of juveniles we don’t see are actually law abiding and respectable in the community.”