School resource officers share their mission at the start of a new year

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) - Area students aren't the only ones going back to class. Some local police officers are heading back to school as well. Officers have been a part of the school system for decades in the Rock Island/Milan School District. Each new school year means new students to get acquainted with. Pupils they hope they can positively impact throughout their education.

It's more about education than enforcement for Doug Williams. In his third year as school resource officer, he covers K-8 for Rock Island/Milan schools. At a meeting on Wednesday night at the Rock Island Police Department community members had a chance to learn more about his role.

"I'll meet with individual classes. I'll go over stranger danger, bullying, internet safety, we're going to have a fingerprinting class coming up," said Williams.

He aims to make for a safer environment at school and at home for the kids he interacts with. A lot of it is building relationships.

"Let the kids see first hand what it's like to be around a police officer," added Williams.

District staff say the expectations and needs of the school resources officers have evolved over the years to keep up with different trends that might impact the learning environment.

"Right now, it's been a big help just with social media because everything gets out there before we even know what's going on," said Alicia Sanders, Director of Pupil Personnel Services for the district.

Just like the freshmen, Matt Franks is learning the ropes in his first year as the high school resource officer. It's a bit of a transition from more than a decade patrolling the streets to now safeguarding a school.

"It's going great. Off to a good school year, having a good time with kids, administration, and staff at Rock Island High School," said Franks.

It's a lot of working with faculty to address issues that might come up, sometimes dealing with criminal concerns.

"It can be bullying, it can be harassment, anything from littering to a kid wanting to talk and needing counseling," added Franks.

For the district the impact on students is invaluable.

"Just those relationships they have with the community, the students and that, it's been a very positive thing," said Sanders.