School resource officers enjoy working with kids
School resource officers are role models, educators, protectors and informal counselors for students in the Minot Public Schools.
“These guys know their kids in the school,” said Minot Police Department Sgt. Caisee Sandusky, who supervises the program and had previously been the school resource officer at Magic City Campus.
The program started in 2014 and was expanded in 2018 to add more officers.
This year there are officers assigned to Minot High School-Magic City Campus, Minot High School-Central Campus, Jim Hill Middle School and Erik Ramstad Middle School.
Sandusky said the program is funded partly by the Minot Police Department and partly by the Minot Public Schools. She personally hopes that funding will be found to expand the program to other schools.
“It’s great for the community; it really is,” she said.
Officers are called upon sometimes to give classroom presentations on how policing works or on topics such as cyber safety or traffic safety or citizenship.
Master Officers Andres Casarez, who is assigned to Central Campus, and Jay Haaland, who is assigned to Magic City Campus, recently gave a presentation on forensics with a mock crime scene set up in the school auditorium as their backdrop.
Casarez said they were able to talk about how police process a crime scene and preserve evidence.
Sandusky said officers also talk with kids about how the law applies to them and the differences in how they might be treated as juveniles versus as adults past their 18th birthdays.
Kids admire and look up to the officers.
“I’ve had many parents come to me … and say, ‘My kid was just super excited to come home and tell me about the day they had at school with Officer Williams,” said Master Officer Brian Williams, who is assigned to Ramstad. “You’re just that little beacon of light and hope for that kid. When they show up to school, they can’t wait to come and see you.”
Master Officer Kenton Kossan is assigned to Jim Hill.
The officers said kids remember the officers from year to year, sometimes ask the officers to attend their school activities and approach them out in the community. They notice if an officer is gone one day and another officer is filling in for them and ask where they have been.
The officers enjoy working with the kids and also see the relationships they are building as a way to help head off any future problems.
The resource officers said they believe their presence adds safety. Just seeing a squad car outside the school conveys a message that the school is not a “soft target” and there is a police presence.
They help train people at the school in how to respond to an emergency situation.
Sandusky said they never “Monday morning quarterback” another officer, but they do draw on what has happened in other parts of the country, such as the tragic school shooting earlier this year in Uvalde, Texas, in planning for future trainings.
She said the positive influence that comes from the school resource officer program far outweighs any possible negativity.
“It’s a humbling experience,” said Williams.