SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – When you’re young, going back to school is the natural thing to do, but it’s not always just for kids. It’s something select police do each fall too. A few of Utah’s school resource officers shared how they prepare to start the new year, in this edition of Behind the Badge.
Right now, kids in Utah are excited for back to school. Many across the state are now back in the classroom. But they’re not the only ones roaming the halls. It’s back to school for the police too. School resource officers like Jonathan Parker are back again at Tooele High School, and students are thrilled to see him. He told ABC4 he feels the same way.
“Yeah, [I’m] super excited. All the kids seem excited too. It’s nice to see all the faces back,” said Officer Parker.
For School Resource Officer Mitchell Haase, it’s his first year at Granite Park Jr. High in South Salt Lake.
“We’ve been gearing up for it all summer long almost as soon as we ended last year, we were gearing up for this year,” said Officer Mitchell Haase, School Resource Officer, Granite Park Jr. High School.
Haase may still be learning where everyone needs to go, but the kids already like him. Learning how to get such warm receptions is part of the training these school resource officers and others like them do to prepare for the year.
“We drill a lot of policing the teen brain because let’s just be honest, the kids are going to be different than how you police an adult,” said Haase.
Just like how students study for tests and exams in class, school resource officers study during the summer before the school year begins. They hit the books for extensive training and even run drills.
The officers said their training covers everything from active school shooters, including one earlier this year at Hunter Jr. High, to a rescue task force training at Cyprus High School to save possibly injured students.
“Being at a school you’re basically going to get every type of crime committed here, so I think it’s good to stay sharp,” said Parker.
Officers study how to interact with students with special needs or simply those maturing in their understanding.
“These kids don’t need you to just say ‘Hey, this is what happens’ and then try and do it, these kids need you to explain to them why the process works this way, and it’s an introduction into adult life,” said Haase.
Both of these men love what they do, the young relationships they can build and the difference they can make.
“I think it’s good to have an impact on them, to maybe teach them that law enforcement isn’t just to take you to jail, and to give you a hard time, we’re here because we want to help,” Parker said.
“There’s a lot of kids that don’t have food on the table, I want to help find and locate which kids need more help than other kids,” said Haase.
Some of it comes naturally, but school resource officers kids see in the hall also study just like them.
Carlson also asked the officers if they buy anything new for the new school year like kids do with new clothes or a backpack. One said he bought a new lunch box so he could keep his drinks nice and cold.