APD School Resource Officers Say Community Involvement Plays Major Role In School Safety

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by Russ Slaten

Original Air Date: December 19, 2012

ANCHORAGE - In the wake of the Connecticut shooting, many parents are worried whether or not their kids are safe in school. Anchorage Police says it's School Resource Officer program helps ensure students safety, but says the community plays a role as well.

School resource officers, or SROs, began working in the schools in 2004, thanks to a federal grant. The Anchorage Police Department implemented the SRO program to handle an average of 40,000 calls a year from the school district.

 "We're actually in the schools, we're dealing with the people that handle the calls, that generate the calls, we know who to talk to, how we need to talk to them. We're actually trained and we're used to talking to juveniles, whereas a patrol officer maybe do not have quite the same exposure talking to juveniles the way that we do," said APD School Resource Officer Jared McKay.

There are two SROs in every high school in the Anchorage School District. The SROs work hand in hand with school administrators from the high school, and every middle school and elementary school that feeds into it.

"We want to hear from citizens, we want to hear those complaints or the observations, anything that you see that's out of the ordinary, let me know," said McKay.

Information gathered from school resource officers is used to understand problems any particular school may have, and lead to ways that may prevent the issue from growing.

"The main way I can keep everybody to the best level of safety that we can, is if we get information from the citizens, from the kids in the schools, and from the people that live around the schools. Tell us what's going on, and then we'll be able to take actions, and we can prevent things from happening, like the tragedy that happened last week," said McKay.

Directly working with students and staff is the key to preventing crime and building a strong relationship between police and the schools, said APD.

"In reality, what we're trying to do is provide a safe environment for everybody to learn, and that's our main objective," said McKay.

School resource officers can be reached by calling the Anchorage Police Department at 907-786-8900 or by going to www.asdk12.org/sro.