SRO SPOTLIGHT: Brian Todd (a.k.a. OT)
Law Enforcement Agency: White Hall Police Department
How long have you worked in law enforcement? I have been in law enforcement full-time since 2002.
Why did you become an SRO? I wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives. I wanted kids to know that the police don’t just show up when you do something wrong or you are not minding your mom at Wal-Mart. LEOs help our communities. I wanted to reach kids to prevent them from making bad decisions and, in some cases, ending up like their families.
What school/school district do you currently serve? I am assigned to White Hall Middle School and help as needed with programs, events, etc. at our other campuses.
What do you find most challenging about working on a school campus? The most difficult thing is to change perceptions of police and what we do. In the past few years, the media really make police officers out to be bad guys while gang members and drug dealers are seen as innocent victims. Once kids see they can trust you and that you truly are there to help, the barriers begin to fall and relationships can be built that last a lifetime.
What do you find most rewarding about working on a school campus? I enjoy seeing students and former students light up when they see me or make a connection with something I have been trying to teach them. I love seeing students, who struggled or seemed like they may not make it in the past, take off and succeed. I am so proud of the kids and love to hear their stories.
What has surprised you the most about working with kids? These kids just want to belong and be respected. If you give them a few minutes and show that you genuinely care, you can totally change a person’s outlook and attitude. Regardless of what some may tell you, teens will talk to adults.
Are they any programs/techniques that you feel have been helpful and effective in creating a safe learning environment? People learn better when their needs are met. If they are hungry or scared, they don’t focus. I make sure everyone is treated equal and if you answer the questions, you get candy. If you laugh, you learn.
What advice would you give to a first-year SRO? Be prepared for anything—questions, statements, etc.—but don’t be embarrassed or shocked. Take it one week at a time and build relationships with the students and faculty. The more people you know and interact with, the better chance you have to prevent or stop issues before they happen. Be approachable, not just a perimeter guard who frowns or sits in an office all day. Be involved with the kids. Cheer at the games. Talk to the kids who no one else does.
What do you do when you aren't working? When I am not working, I am with my family or at church, or just piddling-enjoying down time. I enjoy building things and hunting. I like to target shoot and read.
If you weren't a police officer, what would you be doing instead? If I were not an SRO, I would probably have a career in education or technology.