Law Enforcement Agency: Prairie Grove Police Department

How long have you worked in law enforcement? 8 years

Why did you become a SRO?
I believe that it is my calling in life.  I would love to say that I knew that before I became an officer but I had no idea what the SRO program was at that time. I became a police officer in 2014. My Captain and Chief would often speak about how I would be a great fit for the SRO Program. In 2015, we had some promotions within the department and a position was opened in the School District. I was asked to take the spot as the only SRO inside the school and I jumped at the opportunity. Looking back, there is no other place I would want to be. I did not know it at the time but working daily with students has become a passion of mine. It drives me every day to improve and hopefully affect students in a positive manner. I speak with my Chief often about this very subject. Leadership can be easy if you put individuals in positions where their strengths shine.  I was blessed that they believed in me and put me in a position where my gifts and talents could be used daily.

What school/school district do you currently serve?
Prairie Grove School District- K-12. As of 2019, we currently have 2 SROs. We share responsibilities in all buildings. Shout out to my partner and brother Corporal Travis Stills!

What do you find most challenging about working on a school campus?
The most challenging issue that I endured, prior to having a partner at school with me, was the disconnection from the Police Department. My new partners were Teachers and Principals. The politics were different, the rules were different. It quickly changed the dynamic of my police work. When I would meet with other officers, they would speak of “kicking in doors” and “making a felony arrest.”  I would feel disconnected from that world. Eventually, I understood that my world was just different than theirs. My world was now Juvenile Court cases, F.I.N.S hearings, and community service events. My world became counseling students and teaching life lessons. I learned to love that more than the excitement of patrol. My world was different from theirs but I learned that it was a better one!

What do you find most rewarding about working on a school campus?
It always is and always will be having a direct impact on students and the community as a whole. If I am being honest, most of the time they impact me more than I have ever impacted them.

What has surprised you the most about working with kids?
Their resilience. I have listened to the life stories of many students and wondered, “How do they overcome this?” It’s their life, their family, it’s out of their control and somehow they show up every day with a smile on their face and move forward. True Resilience.

Are there any programs/techniques that you feel have been helpful and effective in creating a safe learning environment?
We start from the ground up to build positive relationships with students. Whether it’s eating donuts with elementary students or playing basketball with Jr/high school students, we believe that everything hinges on relationships.

What advice would you give to a first-year SRO?
It is more than a 40 hour per week job. You will give more than 7:30 to 3:30 Monday through Friday. You must remember that student issues often continue after 3:30.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?
I enjoy being with my wife and kids. We love shoe shopping as a family.  I like playing basketball, jogging and working out.

If you weren’t a police officer, what would you be doing instead?
I would love to be a coach. There may be nothing better than being a role model, a community leader, and having a direct influence on students with the privilege of doing this all in sweatpants… definitely a coach.