New year, new school for Chugiak's school resource officer
It’s not only students heading back to school this fall but also some Anchorage police officers.
Like the freshman class, officer Brian Burton is settling into his new role as Chugiak High School’s school resource officer (SRO).
After spending five years at East High, Officer Burton transferred after Chugiak’s previous SRO retired.
“I’m just starting out here, learning the community, learning the kids and the staff,” he said.
In between classes, his goal is to be a positive presence in the hallway and a person the kids can turn to.
“Hi Andrew,” he greeted students as they switched classes.
Like his time as a patrol officer, every day has something different in store.
On Thursday morning, another officer had picked up two girls who were skipping school. They weren’t licensed to drive but had borrowed a friend’s car and were stopped off campus.
“Their response to him was it was okay for them to skip their first-period class,” Officer Burton said.
He and the assistant principal met with the girls who admitted they ditched class when they found out they had a substitute teacher.
“I get a little hint of weed off you guys,” the officer told them.
“No,” one girl said. “Everyone who smokes weed goes to this school.
“I’m asking you cause I catch a smell of it,” he told them.
The girls later confessed to smoking marijuana but didn’t have any in their possession. Instead, they were cited for their truancy.
“These are daytime curfew tickets. If you’re skipping school you get a fine of $100 each,” officer Burton told them.
Principal Megan Hatswell worked with officer Burton at East High School before she became the principal for Chugiak. She said it’s important to have someone in the school that can deal with those kinds of issues in-house.
“He makes his presence known and he’s very active. He’s active in letting students know he’s here to help them but also he’s proactive in trying to deter poor student choices and poor student behavior,” Hatswell said.
The Anchorage Police Department has 15 officers in the program.
Officer Burton says he feels the SRO program is on the frontline of community-based policing. It’s his job to be a friendly face and lend a helping hand but also lay down the law when necessary.
“Come on guys, let’s get to class,” he shouted over the chatter in the hallway.
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