- Associated Press - Sunday, May 28, 2017

FLATWOODS, Ky. (AP) - A?student passing Bryan Tackett in the hallway at Russell Middle School turns back and looks at his uniform.

“You’re looking spiffy today,”?she says. “Is it a special occasion?”

“Every day is a special occasion here,”?Tackett says, and the student hurries away on important last-week-of-school business.

What Tackett means is that even ordinary days can be extraordinary for a school resource officer who embraces his mission to keep young people safe while getting to know them and earning their trust.

Tackett is a Flatwoods police officer who since early 2016 has been stationed in Russell schools as the district’s resource officer.

School resource officers are regular police officers who work in schools under an agreement between the district and the police department. Flatwoods and the district each pay part of the expense.

Several other area districts have resource officers. Flatwoods and the Russell district - all its schools are in Flatwoods - hammered out an agreement in 2016 and Tackett, who has been with the city’s police department since 2012, immediately volunteered for the post.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I thought it would be a good move for the police department,”?he said Wednesday, shortly before the end of the school day.

Good for the department because a major facet of community policing is building relationships with people - including children - before trouble starts, and also because police presence is an extra measure of safety in an era of locked doors, visitor passes and metal detectors.

Since then, he has become a familiar face in all five district schools - primary, intermediate, middle, high and vocational - and among other things has introduced and overseen a Drug Abuse Resistance Education drug prevention program.

In late June, he will receive a state Rookie School Resource Officer of the Year award for which he was nominated by RMS Principal Shawn Moore.

“It’s just because of the impact he’s made on the students,”?Moore said. “He has truly improved their lives, the quality of their lives.”

Besides befriending them, high-fiving and fist-bumping in the hallways and cafeteria, Tackett brings them a real-world look at the consequences of crime and particularly drug abuse, Moore said. Tackett also presents a credible law-enforcement perspective on the pitfalls of social media misuse, he said.

Some students said they feel safer with Tackett around. With terrorist attacks and school shootings frequently in the news, said eighth-grader Alexis Mullins, it is good to have a police officer on hand.

The same goes for his day-to-day duties, according to eighth-grader Will Prater. “He does great at his job, like helping kids trying to get across to the primary school or helping cars pull out of the parking lot.”

Tackett, 35, has been a police officer since 2008 and has worked with children a Scout leader and coach.

He usually starts his day at the primary school monitoring traffic while children are arriving and then move on to the high school, where students congregate in the commons area for breakfast. He makes a point of at least passing through each school every day.

Tackett sees part of his role as counselor. The more students see his face, the better they will know him, and the better they know him the more they will trust him, and perhaps confide personal issues he can help with, he believes.

But also, his time spent in walkthroughs has resulted in a thorough familiarity with their layouts. “I?know every nook and cranny,”?he said. So in the event of an emergency he won’t waste precious seconds remembering which hall to take.

The SRO contract is year to year, and it will be up to the school board and the city sometime this summer to decide whether to renew it.

If they do, Tackett wants to keep the job.


Information from: The Independent, https://www.dailyindependent.com

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