Protector/Role Model SRO: An important job to love at city schools

BY Jan Murray jmurray@southeastsun.com

Protector/Role Model SRO: An important job to love at city schools
An officer with the local police department just over two years, the 34-year-old police officer stepped into the position as resource officer on the first day of the new school year and so far, he said, he loves it and is glad to be in the role.“I like kids. I have five kids of my own. I think that there needs to be a positive influence in the schools as well as on the street. School resource officers can reach out to kids, kids that may be having a rough time at home. My thing is to try and build a relationship with the kids” so they can feel comfortable talking about whatever is concerning or important.Myers begins each school day at 7:30 a.m. with his military-style boots on the ground making countless passes through the halls at Daleville High School. As he encounters students, he makes small talk, gives out encouragement and reminds boys to tuck in their shirttails. He also spends a great deal of time in the break yard when the most students congregate and where problems are more likely to arise. Myers also spends time in the lunchroom and wherever physical education classes meet.The new SRO said, “I try to interact with the kids at P.E. as much as possible. That’s really my one-on-one time with them, for the most part. I try to get to know their names, hang out with them and let them know I’m cool and not just here to enforce…”With a perceived anti-police mentality in much of the country, Myers is aware so he works extra hard to have positive interactions with the students, whether it’s throwing a football or just chatting, “so they know I’m not just here to look like a stone statue and just to enforce rules. I’m here to be somebody they can look up to and talk to. I want to be a friend to them and let them know that I’m here for you (the students)…They can come talk to me and I can help them out without having to go another route.”Myers carries his gun, handcuffs, body camera and radio each and everyday. He does not feel that he needs a taser at the school.“I feel like if I can get down to that (troubled) person’s level…and just talk to them, without showing some sort of force like they see on television or that they read about or someone has told them about, if I can just talk to that person, nine times out of 10…it will work out in the long run,” he said.Myers spends some time walking the halls of Windham Elementary School in addition to the high school, but admittedly said the elementary school has much less of a need for a SRO. However, Myers said he relishes his time with the younger students.Smiling as he described the multitudes of hugs and smiles he receives at WES, Myers said, “It’s absolutely awesome to go over there and see those kids…and get those hugs. It absolutely makes my day.”However, the new SRO feels it is imperative that he spends the majority of his time at DHS even though he makes certain his presence is known at WES.“Here, the kids are much older, there’s a little more freedom at the high school, versus at the elementary school. So, my main focus is here, making sure everything runs smoothly,” he said.Myers said there have been incidences of fights and truancy already in the current school year and that the fights have generally been continuances of altercations that began off campus and many times the fights involve family members. Currently, the school is reestablishing in-school suspension so that students don’t get a ticket to stay at home when misbehavior becomes an issue. A fighting student was sent home on suspension prior to the ISS being set up.On the day of this interview, two teenagers were caught leaving school and while Myers said it probably was not the first time for the girls, it was the first time they’d been caught.“It wasn’t the first time, but it is the first time they got caught and they know we are not playing,” the SRO said. “We watched the two individuals earlier walk away from the community center, across Donnell Boulevard and we went and picked them up.”Myers plans to talk with other area SROs to get more ideas on how to develop in his role as the resource officer as well as how to deal with various issues as they arise. He said it is his goal to eventually place under arrest those students who violently ambush unknowing students because such an attack makes it impossible for victims to protect or defend themselves.“I think if we can start making examples out of some of these kids, that we have a zero tolerance for this kind of behavior, maybe they won’t do it at school…” Myers said, adding that he understands that dealing with students is different than interacting with the general public when he was working the streets.Myers said, “I’ve had to train my mind to deal with these students because a lot of these students don’t live with their mama’s, they don’t live with their daddy’s…There’s a lot of them living with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins…You don’t know what kind of day that student’s had, what’s going on in their life…They have bad days and that’s something that we, as an administration, have to take into consideration.“We have to look at the whole picture. Yeah, does discipline have to happen if they step out of line? Yes, absolutely, but it doesn’t have to be as severe…They are working on how to control their emotions and everything else and being as young as they are and going through what they’ve gone through…it’s hard on them. That’s why I like being here…to try and help as much as possible.”Overall, Myers hopes to bring DHS back “to what it used to be. My goal here is, along with the principal, (Mr. Josh Robertson) and Mr. (Ted) Folsom (assistant principal), and the rest of the staff is to try to coach them (the students) to focus on what’s important and that’s graduating…Make something of yourself. Don’t get in trouble. Don’t be a statistic. Don’t end up in jail. Don’t end up on the streets. If you don’t take school serious, that’s probably where you are going to end up. My main goal is to be here for them, to be that support that they may not get at home.”
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CITY OF DALEVILLE ALABAMA
740 S. Daleville Ave * Daleville, Alabama 36322 * 334.598.2345


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