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Editorial: Take time to know resource officers

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Columbus North and East high schools now each have a full-time police presence that’s intended to help students, teachers and administrators.

They’re called student resource officers.

However, some students said the presence of a police officer makes them feel uneasy, nervous and as if something bad was happening at the school.

That’s concerning.

Our advice to those students: Give ’em a chance and get to know them.

Here are some brief introductions:

Eric Stevens is a 14-year veteran of Columbus Police Department. Besides working at Columbus North, he also serves Northside Middle School, CSA New Tech High School, Busy Bees Academy and Schmitt, Taylorsville, Southside, Mt. Healthy and Parkside elementary schools.

Julie Quesenbery is an eight-year CPD member. She serves Columbus East High School, Central Middle School, McDowell Education Center and Fodrea, Clifty Creek, Lincoln, Smith, Richards and Rockcreek elementary schools.

Here’s something even more important to know: Stevens and Quesenbery wanted this job. They wanted the opportunity to work with students daily and were chosen through a selection process. Both have backgrounds working with children and young adults, through programs such as DARE.

“That’s my niche. When the school resource officer opportunity came along, I knew I had to go for it,” Quesenbery said when introduced in November.

“It’s about interacting with kids and helping them with their problems,” Stevens said then.

Stevens and Quesenbery can be resources for parents about bullying and their children’s well-being. They’re nearby in case a problem requires their attention. They are mentor figures who will provide honest advice to students. However, ensuring safety is their first priority.

North and East have taken measures to introduce the officers to students and teachers to help build trust and relationships.

Stevens was introduced at a faculty meeting, has met with department heads and has visited classrooms where he’s given presentations, North Principal David Clark said.

Quesenbery met with East’s parents group in November. On the first day of school, she and East Principal Mark Newell walked the building and talked with staff and students. She is visible and talks with the students, Newell said.

Since the officers are making an effort to know the students, students who are uneasy about the officers should make an effort to meet and talk with them. That would help the students better understand the officers and their jobs.

And in the process, they just might learn that these officers can be a resource for them.

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