All six Bellevue police officers assigned to Bellevue’s middle and high schools are back on campus and ready for the new year. The school resource officers, or SROs, help create a safe environment in our schools, but at times, they also double up as counselors, confidantes, educators, and even social workers. “I truly love being an SRO and can honestly show up to school with a smile on my face each day. Building relationships with students and keeping them safe are my priorities. This may be the first time a kid has had any contact with a police officer. I get to be that ‘first impression’ for them,” says Officer Jennifer Sweeney.
Officer Sweeney is currently assigned to Sammamish High School and knows it’s not always an easy job. “I sometimes have to work hard to gain their trust and respect. This may be from a bad experience or something they may have heard or seen. I work on it every day. I strive to be someone they can trust and a role model for our future law enforcement brothers and sisters.”
The SROs assist the schools with any criminal activity, building security, and overall safety concerns. Plus, in today’s environment, having a police presence and that daily interaction with kids is comforting for parents, students, teachers, and school officials. “I love this age group. They still ask for stickers, they’re just awesome!” says Officer David Wright, who is the SRO at both Odle and Tillicum Middle Schools. “Many times, if we can interact with the kids early on, it only takes one conversation to correct their behavior. Especially when the parents are involved, the students respond well.”
The SROs are also frequent guest speakers in classrooms. They help educate students on everything from traffic stops, social media, and making smart choices. Each of the four high schools has a dedicated SRO who is on campus four days a week. Two SROs share duties at the middle and Choice schools.