By: Jeremy Scott
It’s a sign of the times. With the increased threats of mass shooting targeting schools, many of the areas learning institutions have begun hiring police officers to help keep students safe. Many of the local school already have Student Resource Officers in place.
Either active or retired policeman roam the halls, assess threats, and prevents acts of terror simply by being on site. North Central Schools have joined this new trend by hiring Lt. John Roberts to keep their school safe.
Lt. Roberts is originally from the Milan Ohio area. He began his law enforcement career working for the Cedar Point Police Department, and McComb Police Department before becoming a part time officer with the Pioneer Police Department as well as the Stryker Police Department in 2009. In 2012 Lt. Roberts was promoted to a full-time officer in the Pioneer Police Department.
The Department had been actively looking to hire an SRO, and one day Chief Livengood came to believe Roberts would be the best choice. Roberts stated “I do know that we’ve had a lot of support both from the mayor and the village council along with the superintendent and the board of education, and both entities were really excited to see it moving forward.”
Before Lt. Roberts could take over his new position, he had to undergo forty hours of training. Lt Roberts received his training from the Ohio School Resource Officer Association based in Dublin, Ohio. During the training he was schooled on many different areas including, emergency response procedures, as well as listening to speakers on child psychology and how to talk to children specifically. He also was learned about building relationship between law enforcement and the school administration to make the best working relationship possible.
As for the duties of the newly minted Student Resource Officer, Lt. Roberts begins his day checking the ground, making sure no break-ins have occurred during the evening. He then is in front of the school as parents begin to drop off their children and busses begin arriving. The response from the parents have been positive with many stopping to tell Lt. Roberts that they are happy to see him there.
The remainder of the day is spent patrolling the hallways, being out with the kids as they move from class to class, and monitoring the lunch room. Lt. Roberts has also offered his services to the teachers in a speaker capacity, to talk to the students especially from a legal standpoint. “Hopefully this will give me a chance to provide some information that hopefully kind of gets the fog lifted. There is a lot of misinformation about our profession that I think a lot of people run with. Hearing straight from me should hopefully lift that fog,” stated Roberts.
As far as how the students have been responding. Roberts says, “A lot of the older students were already familiar with me because of basketball games or volleyball games I was down at the school. The smaller students are a bit of a shocking surprise. When I’m walking through the hallways, seeing the smaller student’s eyes getting all lit up, and they’re waving. It’s a big deal for them to see an officer in the school walking around.”
Not only is Lt. Roberts at the school to prevent acts of terrible violence, but he is also there simply to keep the peace in the school. “I had a teacher stop at my office, and he told me he was glad I am here, and the atmosphere is a lot different from last year to this year, and he meant it in a good way,” Roberts said. “Just my mere presence might prevent two guys wanting to get into a fist fight over a girl.”
Lt. Roberts also hopes that being at the school will help the students realize that “we aren’t the big, scary monster that is sometimes reported in the news.” He hopes that the children will feel like they can come up to him with any concerns they have.
Jeremy can be reached at email@example.com