It is a common habit to think of those who work in uniform, particularly local police and Alaska State Troopers, as faceless, ruthless authority figures who usually interact with the public only on one’s worst days.
We regularly only remember them when we see their flashing lights in our rearview mirror or when we are frantically dialing the phone to reach them. It is for that reason we can easily develop a fear of, or lose trust in those figure’s presence.
However, the Clarion recently shadowed a Kenai Police Department officer who serves as a school resource officer and we found that work to be encouraging. It is a positive use of resources to make a connection between youth and the police beyond normal interactions in programs like the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.
Having a friendly, authoritative presence in our high schools does several things — it helps govern interactions at the school certainly, but it also serves to keep youth connected with the world outside the school door and remind them that police are here to help.
While it is the Alaskan way to apply a healthy dose of skepticism to those who govern and police us, we think there is also room for an understanding that these folks do a community a great amount of good. We’d estimate that those of us who grew up with a positive attitude about the work police do in our area are more likely to find a positive path and maintain it.
For that reason, we pleased to see funding for school resource officers in our area. It would be nice to have one in each of our high schools, though we understand police and troopers’ budgets are tight. Recent news that the governor Parnell is requesting five new trooper positions for the Peninsula is encouraging. We hope trooper officials look at the possibility of adding the SRO position at Nikiski High School, as their community considers it a priority.
In short: Thanks to those who participate in the school resource officer program and those who make it possible. If the means become available, we hope for its presence in the area to be expanded. It is an important program that should continue to benefit the area’s youth.