The Hopkins Police Department is creating its first school resource officer position as part of an effort to work with local juveniles, the agency announced Wednesday morning.
“It’s been a priority of our agency to really connect with our youth,” Police Sgt. Michael Glassberg said. “The sooner you intervene and see kids on the wrong track, the greater the impact you can have.”
Officer Jessica Thomas, who’s been with the department since 2006, has been tapped to be the new school resource officer (SRO). She’ll work with the following schools in Hopkins:
- Alice Smith Elementary
- Eisenhower Elementary
- The Blake School
- Mainstreet School of Performing Arts
- Ubah Medical Academy
- Off Campus Pavilion Alternative Program (although that’s leaving the Pavilion starting with the 2013-14 school year)
“She’s very passionate about working with juveniles,” Glassberg said.
Glassberg said the decision is not related to the Sandy Hook incident or any other school shooting. Instead, it’s mainly about building positive bonds with local juveniles—a focus seen in other initiatives, including Operation Recess and the Cops and Kids Fishing event.
Thomas’ responsibilities as SRO include serving as the main responder to school calls, meeting with counselors and administrators and teaching students. Glassberg noted that she read to a special education class just this week.
The creation of the new position does not create any new costs for the Hopkins Police Department or require any additional officers. During the school year, the department will pull one officer from its Focusing on Crime Using Strategy (FOCUS) Team—a three-person team that addresses emerging trends in the community. When school is out, the FOCUS Team will return to its full manpower.
“As some districts and agencies are unfortunately being forced to eliminate these SRO positions due to budget cuts, the police department and school district feel it is important to expand in this area of school safety and youth relationships,” a Police Department news release stated.