5 minutes with the SRO
Editors note: This is the first in a new monthly series. Each month, the Craig Press will visit with the school resource officers to keep the community informed about policing activities, trends and the positive work between the school district and Craig Police Department in the protection and education of local children. The series will also provide highlights from the SROs’ monthly activity reports.
Craig Press: As a result of changes and turnover at the Craig Police Department, the number of SROs dropped from two to one. The city is planning to hire a second officer, but how is the reduction in staffing impacting your job?
School Resource Officer Ryan Fritz: Unfortunately, as a single SRO, it has already proven difficult to do much proactive policing at the elementary level. We are adapting to our current circumstances. We are working very hard to get another officer, but it could take time. It takes a particular type of officer; it’s proving difficult right now, but we will figure it out.
CP: Recently, there was a rumor that a high school student was planning a shooting at the school. What is the status of this case?
Fritz: The investigation is complete. Steps are being taken to ensure everyone’s safety, to include the safety of the student the rumors were about.
CP: When serious threats come in, what is the process used to address those threats?
Fritz: Investigations are worked together with the PD and the schools. We get eyes on the student and alert staff. If the perceived threat is extreme, a patrol officer(s) hangs out in parking lot or school during the investigation, watching the school to help parents and students feel safe. The extra officers give a sense of security, help keep students safe and provide extra capacity when SRO attention is off of those parking lots and common areas.
CP: What trends are you seeing in the schools?
Fritz: My number-one struggle is dealing with mental health issues in the schools and the prevalence of suicide ideation in students born after 1995 — the I-Gen. That’s not just in the schools, but a trend for law enforcement, nationwide. Another problem is substance abuse. It’s not as prevalent a problem as some might think, but sometimes, it’s surprising where it pops up. I’ve had students make the poor choice to bring alcohol to the middle school and alcohol and marijuana to the high school. Perception of threats to the schools is another trend. The rumor mill tends to spit things out and re-ingest it and spit it out again. I also see typical bullying-type behaviors. The downside of social media is that students face constant contact and pressure. The lack of downtime has a serious impact on kids.
CP: What else would you like readers to know?
Fritz: There’s a lot of stuff that we can’t talk about to protect the children involved. I need parents to trust that law enforcement has every student’s safety as their highest priority. I have kiddos in these same schools. I treat their student like they are my own kid.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.