Friday, September 16, 2011

Getting to Know the Department

The School Resource Officer Unit

Lieutenant Erik Hulse currently works the midnight shift in the Patrol Division, but back in the fall of 1993, he was Overland Park’s first School Resource Officer (SRO). Since Erik’s start at Shawnee Mission North, the SRO Unit has grown to sixteen officers, who provide a law enforcement presence in nineteen middle and high schools in both major school districts, as well as a Catholic high school.

School Resource Officers perform the roles of teacher, counselor and law enforcement within their school communities. Some of the functions SRO’s involve themselves in include:

As visible, active law enforcement figures on campus dealing with any law or crime-related issues.

As classroom resources to instruct law-related issues including crime, alcohol and drug prevention.

Members of a faculty/administration team who work to solve school community issues.

Provide guidance to students, parents, and faculty on problems concerning mental health and child in need of care issues.

Officers strive to promote a better relationship between themselves and their students to achieve a better perception of law enforcement among young people through the roles listed above. Aside from the more obvious topics law enforcement officers educate about, the unit is fortunate to have officers trained in crime scene investigation, and accident and shooting reconstruction. During these presentations, officers focus on the application of school subjects such as the math sciences utilized in these processes.

Visibility is an important part of the program, both inside and outside of the school building. Officers perform their duties in full police uniforms and marked patrol cars and the visibility of both can be a deterrent to crime and violence within the schools.

Overland Park SRO’s not only investigate crimes occurring on campus, but also any school-related crime/incident involving school participants off campus. Through these investigations, SRO’s significantly minimize the time patrol officers and detectives spend on these incidents, keeping those personnel available to handle other matters.

School districts and the police department share in the funding of these positions and, like eighteen years ago when the SRO Unit was formed, our officers continue to be a welcome addition to their schools by students, parents, and school staffs.