by Joseph Sweeney | editor-in-chief

The annual Coffee with a cop event will be held in the foyer by the welcome center on Nov. 17, where students will be able to converse with campus resource officers, but before meeting them, it may be important for students to know what the North East Police Department does for them.

“I show up here everyday, Monday through Friday. When you are here, we’re here. When you’re off, we’re off. When we’re not here, we’re on-breaks, holiday breaks, we’ll patrol the district一the entire school district. The administration can call us, whatever their needs are, or we can even respond to other schools if needed,” campus resource officer Jason Castanon said.

While resource officers are no different than officers from county police departments, being a separate police department, they have a different jurisdiction compared to other police departments in the area.

“The department was formed at the direction of this school board,” McCampbell said. “I am supervised by law and report directly to the superintendent. We don’t go patrolling outside of the school district boundaries. Like regular police officers do, we patrol and we stay within the boundaries. Now, for example, a school has a function that’s outside of the boundaries, while that group is at that site, wherever that may be, we have the authority to investigate.”

Each high school in the district typically has two resource officers stationed on-campus, while each middle school has one. Elementary schools are also patrolled by officers in the area.

“[From] fights to dealing with a student who may have some type of illegal contraband, suspicious people walking around the perimeter, kind of just basic everyday people that we may be able to assist,” North East police chief Wallace McCampbell said. “[We] help make sure the right resources are available to that student, whether it’s EMS or in the case they just need to talk to somebody and kind of help make them feel safer and more at ease.”

On their typical day-to-day job, resource officers can typically be found directing traffic both in the parking lots and in the cafeteria. They answer to their supervisors at the North East police department.

“We divide up our 46 elementary schools into equal numbers that they’re responsible to patrol,” McCampbell said. “On a daily basis, they go around, check in, let the kids, see them interact with the kids. During lunchtime, they’ll go down and sit and eat lunch with them.”

For emergencies occurring at neighboring schools, resource officers can respond from their campus to assist one nearby. 

“We can pull officers from anywhere within the district to assist in any type of situation based on how many officers are needed, per situation,” McCampbell said. “But usually that’s the last resort. Now, of course, if it’s something major we could utilize every officer within the district to respond if needed.”

Through events such as Coffee with a cop and even just them patrolling around campus, the department hopes all students are able to say they have had a positive experience with law enforcement after interacting with their campus’s resource officer.

“Lots of the time our patrol guys will stop in on games and what not, just stop by, say hi,” Castanon said. “Many times I’ll take a drive over to an elementary school and say hi. The little kids, they see the uniform, and they kind of see us as a superhero or something. They always want high-fives and what not. If there’s an event happening with the department, they’ll ask for some guys to show up and we’ll go. It’s kind of unlimited as far as what we can do to get involved with the community.”

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About The Author

Joseph Sweeney is a senior entering his fifth year as a student journalist. He now serves as the editor-in-chief of My Jag News and also works with Jag TV. When not in school, Sweeney can typically be found making sandwiches at the nearby Panera Bread.

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