Fairfield is adding two more school resource officers in schools this year in hopes to continuing positive relationships with the district’s students.
Chief Steve Maynard said these officers are mentors to the students, providing another avenue for them to interact with the police. They also help the students “outside the traditional law enforcement sense,” he said.
Fairfield has had two officers in schools within the city limits but will have four as the 2019-2020 school year starts. With one returning to the duty assignment, the police department this week named the three new SROs who will serve in the high school, freshman school and two middle schools.
“Unfortunately, we live in a world in which there are occasions that we receive some type of threat,” said Fairfield schools Superintendent Billy Smith. “When that happens, we work directly with our local law enforcement agencies.”
By adding more armed resources officers, Fairfield continues to follow a regional trend of school districts bolstering their building security through a combination of additional police and safety technology.
Butler County has been the regional epicenter for public debates over school security, including last fall’s attempt by five districts to become among the first in Ohio to collectively convince voters to approve a tax hike that would have financed school security and expanded student mental health services in their school districts. The proposed tax was overwhelmingly defeated by voters.
In May, the city and school district agreed to expand the presence of police officers in the schools. In exchange for the city increasing the number of SROs, the school district agreed to fund two of the four officers. They start their duty assignments on Aug. 12.
Officer Todd Adamson, who is returning for a second year as an SRO, will be assigned to Crossroads Middle School. Officer Kevin Mack, who was the commander for the Respect for Law Camp, will be assigned to Creekside School. Officer Craig Singleton, who was previously an SRO, will be assigned to the Fairfield Freshman School. Officer Rob Corner, a former K9 handler and current SWAT team member, will be assigned to the Fairfield High School.
“Time and time again, we have witnessed situations where a student connects with an SRO and will open up to the SRO when he or she may not open up to anyone else,” he said. “They make a difference in the lives of our kids each and every day.”
Maynard said a good SRO will have patience and a willingness to want to work with kids, and he believes all four that volunteered for the duty assignment do.
“It’s not for everybody,” the chief said. “You have to have the ability to respond accordingly if there is some sort of critical incident. You want an officer that’s well-trained, physically fit that may have to get involved in some kind of altercation that’s taking place. Protect the kids.”
The best example of an SRO protecting a student is when former Fairfield SRO Sgt. Kevin Harrington helped a former student escape an abusive situation. Harrington left the duty assignment this year after 11 years when he was promoted.
“I was there for her,” Harrington told the Journal in July. He said he filed charges on the family members, arrested them “and made sure she wound up in a very safe place after that.”
Foster parents from central Ohio eventually adopted the girl.
“If it wasn’t for me being a school resource officer that would have never have happened,” Harrington said.
Maynard said it’s stories like the girl who was helped by Harrington “that really hit home how of much an impact our officers have on people’s lives, especially kids.”
Staff writer Michael D. Clark contributed to this story.
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