CITY OF PRINCETON: A Day In The Life Of A School Resource Officer
City of Princeton issued the following announcement on Sept. 6.
With new backpacks, new class schedules, new teachers and a new year to look forward to, Princeton Elementary School students went back to school on Aug. 15.
Not only did students, teachers and staff return to school that Thursday morning, but so did School Resource Officer Rob Jensen.
It was Jensen’s first day off road patrol for the year and back into the hallways of all four school buildings in the PES District.
It’s the second year Jensen has been hired on full-time as the SRO through an agreement with the school district and Princeton Police Department.
Before being hired on full time, Jensen served as the district’s DARE officer, which he continues to do with his SRO duties.
Teaching the DARE program to students, meant he was a familiar face for many of them who were already comfortable with his presence in the schools.
Many have wondered what a school resource officer does during a day, so here is a chronicle of what the first day back to school was like for Princeton Elementary’s school resource officer.
Jensen begins the day bright and early. After clocking in and preparing for his shift at the police station, he is in his squad vehicle and ready for morning patrol by 7:30 a.m. sharp.
First thing on his agenda is to ensure cars are parked legally around the schools and student drop-off is running smoothly. For the most part, traffic issues are minor on the first day. The owner of a car parked in front of a fire hydrant is asked to move, and Jensen has to run a license plate of a car parked too closely to the curb. But that car eventually moves, too.
There are a few hiccups in the drop-off routine at Lincoln School, but Jensen said he is confident the kinks will work themselves out once the school year continues on and parents became familiar with the correct drop-off system.
Logan Junior High is the first building where Jensen makes his rounds. There, he is greeted at the door by Principal Mandy Carr, who gives him a warm smile and welcomes him back.
Jensen asks how things are going, and she replies they are going well for the first day.
Jensen checks in with the office staff and grabs a walkie-talkie he carries with him around the school in case he needs to call out to any of the administrators.
He is then off to walk the halls to make sure students are finding their first class OK.
He knows the building like the back of his hand, so he is a good person to ask when students are lost. On the first floor, he stops to take a look at a colorful bulletin board that lists students’ birthdays for the month. He explains how he likes to check and see whose birthday it is on that particular day so he can wish them a happy one.
The first day does not seem to present any challenges for students looking for classes. However, Jensen does stop to help a few students having trouble fitting their backpacks into lockers.
Along his journey through the hallways, students stop to say, “Hi.” They wave to him and remark how they remember him from last year.
With every greeting he receives, Jensen returns it and asks how their summers were and whether they are ready for the new year.
Teachers walking through the hallway also reach out to greet Jensen. He also asks them if they are ready for the first day. Some say they are, others admit they are not.
Once the hallways clear, Jensen heads down to a welcome assembly for the eighth-graders. Teachers and staff are introduced. When it comes around to Jensen, students give a loud applause and some cheer. It is evident they are happy to see him back at school.
Later on, Jensen talks about how his purpose at the school, other than to provide security, is to help students comply with rules. Sometimes he is asked to intervene with troubled students, but those are rare occasions. Many times, he said all it takes is a talk with them about good character and consequences for bad choices.
He goes into it knowing junior high is a tough age where kids struggle to find an identity and act out to “test the waters.” He takes that into consideration when having to discuss a disciplinary issue.
After making his rounds at the junior high, Jensen sets off to visit the three elementary schools: Jefferson, which houses first and second grades; Douglas, which houses pre-kindergarten and kindergarten; and Lincoln, which houses third and fourth grades.
He checks in at each of the offices and welcomes everyone back from summer break. He meets with each building principal and explains to them how he is all set to begin teaching the DARE program. He also fields questions about upcoming active-shooter drills.
A new law this year requires schools to hold an active-shooting drill within the first 90 days of the school year. Jensen is ahead of the game and is prepared to host these drills with each school. He explains how he lets the teachers get settled into the year for the first couple of weeks, and once September rolls around, then he will begin planning times to come in for DARE and the drills.
When lunchtime rolls around, Jensen is back at Logan Junior High where he helps monitor the seventh- and eighth-grade lunch periods. During that time, he walks up and down the lunch tables and stops to talk with the kids he knows. He talks to them about their summer and asks them if they’re going out for a certain sport again this year.
The students laugh with him and ask about his summer, which he doesn’t hesitate to open up about and even shares a picture of a fish he caught while on vacation.
During lunch, Jensen also makes a point to visit with teachers who are eating in their classrooms or taking a quick break in the lounge. It’s during this time, teachers discuss disciplinary issues they had with students and also talk about the curriculum he will be teaching for the DARE program.
Bus time can be described as “chaotic.” But there is a means to the chaos. Logan Junior High is the bus hub where all elementary and high school kids are bused to. There, they switch to the bus that takes them home.
When the buses begin to line up, Jensen is prepared for the “chaos” and ready to assist students looking for the right bus.
Amid the sea of yellow buses, there is one parent looking nervous while talking on his cellphone. Jensen asks who they are looking for and sets out to find a staff member who has a list of every bus rider and the number of the bus they are supposed to be on.
It takes about five minutes and a search through a couple of buses before they find the 6-year-old. Once it is clear that everyone is on the right bus and headed where they should, the parking lot begins to clear. Jensen returns to the office to hand in his walkie-talkie, and it is back to the police station where his shift for the day ends.
On the way back, he says overall, for a first day, things seemed to run smoothly, which set the tone for a good start to the school year at PES.
Original source can be found here.
Source: City of Princeton