There are many people in the area who do not know what a Resource Officer is and why schools are obtaining such people. The Bloom-Vernon School District is the first to spell this out to their community.
The voters of Bloom-Vernon School District, voted on and passed a levy in November of 2018. According to Marc Kreischer, Bloom-Vernon Superintendent, the board and himself, discussed what they felt was a need in the district. “It has been something we have been working on for quite awhile, and we found out through the Scioto County Sheriff, Marty Donini in December. The sheriff’s department was very cooperative in getting us the right person and I definitely think Deputy Jonathan Walker is the right person for the job here.”
Kreischer said he did have input on who was chosen to work in his district. He wanted an individual at his district that could interact with children. “It is a different environment every day, but I definitely think Deputy Walker is fitting the bill.” Walker found out before the New Year that he had the assignment and was working in the community there during school break, and then started his new school assignment on Monday after break. He said he had stopped in while out there during break to let Kreischer know he would be starting, and that Kreischer was positively surprised, because he didn’t think it would happen that soon.
“Everybody here at the high school and elementary have been great and have welcomed me with open arms,” Walker said. “They get me access to everything I need and if I do have questions, they’ve been able to answer.”
Walker is originally from Wheelersburg, where graduated. He began working for the Scioto County Sheriff’s office on June 20, 2011, where he starting working at the jail for four years and then for the past four years he has been on patrol. He stated that Donini posted how many resource officers were needed in the county and “I applied, was picked, and here I am.”
Walker works with both the high school and elementary. He says he bounces around from building to building and doesn’t have a set schedule, so people won’t always know where he is, but that he is in immediate and constant contact with the school administrators and would be there immediately if needed. Kreischer added it is nice that Bloom-Vernon has a campus where both buildings are together.
Kreischer discussed why they felt this need saying they are in the outskirts of the county and they knew the response time was kind of a long time and felt as they looked into it more and more, that they really needed a resource officer. Not just for an actual emergency, but also the presence, he said it is something the community staff has been very supportive of.
Walker said he and Sandy Smith, the elementary principal, have been talking about having some activities with the students that show a positive approach toward it and that cops are not bad people.
Kreischer also added that Walker brings a lot to the table as far as education, for staff and students, whether it’s lessons on gun safety, drunk driving or any of those things they have not had someone available for. “I think he can bring that to the table, and be an asset. Right now, he is strictly assigned to the school district during the school year, five days a week.” Kreischer says that from his understanding, he will be in the community during the summer months, not unnecessarily at the school, and he says that is something they like and it benefits their entire community, not just the school district.
Walker said that his very first day, “it was unreal, the kids just kind of walked around, they didn’t really want to look at me, they were kind of jittery. Day two, I started getting high fives, hugs and then Wednesday, it was a whole new ballgame, they are excited, they told ‘mom’ or whoever they might be living with, they are excited.” He continued that he went down to the elementary and it was like someone famous was there, “I try to interact with everyone and I try to be positive with them.”
“We are very excited for this opportunity and I appreciate the community, the parents, the staff, and also the sheriff’s office,” Kriescher said. “And this is not just emergency, it’s a benefit for other reasons and what he brings is essential.”
Smith said that everything she has seen and heard about Walker is positive and that he has a good reputation. “He is very eager to help us and the kids have loved him. The first day he stood with me and the kids were just not sure why he was here. Then as soon as school started, I made an announcement, just welcomed him and told them that he was our resource officer and to make him feel welcome and he is here to help us and is a friend to us. He just seems like a nice guy and a perfect fit for us.” Smith continued to speak of when they brought the counselors in from the Counseling Center, it really helped with discipline, because students sometimes need someone to talk to and to help them work through the problems they are having. She said It has made a huge difference and she feels that having Walker there is just another layer, it is the next step in kids seeing law enforcement as being there to help them, not out to get them. She said her goal for him is that the kids feel he is a resource that they can trust him and they want to build that relationship. “That’s what we’re about here.”
One of the issues that Smith said that she sees a need for him at the elementary level, could be that of child custody and other adult related things, they don’t want them to see him as a disciplinarian.
Bloom Vernon High School Principal Brett Roberts says that obviously they want the resource officer to have the presence there, a safety personnel on duty, hopefully come to trust him, if they are experiencing some kind of abuse in any way, they would report that to him whether it is they themselves or a neighbor or someone around that may be detrimental to the student body, or their town. “Hopefully, they see him as a trusted adult that they would be able to share and have confidence in things. We also want to use him as a resource, like in the dangers of technology and things like that.”
Roberts summed up with comments of what the Bloom Vernon School District plans to have their resource officer doing within the school district. “If nothing more, what we hope to accomplish with this is not to catch kids doing anything bad, it is to provide another resource where kids feel an assurance that they are in a safe environment, where they can receive a great education, feel safe from potential violence in a school, and there are people here that care and that want to see our students to excel to be the best they can be. And, he is just another resource here to help us achieve those goals.”
“We want to thank our community for thinking of our kids’ well being and the safety of our school district and the community as a whole,” Roberts said. “We have a great school because we have great people to support our school.”
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928