KEEPING KIDS SAFE

Livingston officials renew school resource officer position
By: 
Johnathan Hettinger -
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Enterprise photo by Johnathan Hettinger

School Resource Officer Will Williams greets students between classes Wednesday morning at Park High School.

During a passing period at Park High School on Wednesday morning, School Resource Officer Will Williams was one of the most popular people in the hallway.

Williams knows everyone — and everyone knows him.

“How’s the year going so far?” Williams asked one student.

“Good! I can’t believe I’m a senior,” he replied.

Another student walked by and gave Williams a fistbump.

“Thanks for keeping our school safe — and the community too,” the student said as he walked by.

For Williams, this is the most important part of being the school resource officer, providing a friendly face to students, serving as a role model and teacher, and sometimes disciplining students.

On Tuesday night, the Livingston City Commission voted 3-0 to extend the contract for a school resource officer. Under the contract, the school district pays for half of Williams’ salary when he’s working for the school. Sarah Sandberg was not at the meeting, while Dorel Hoglund abstained because she also works for the school district.

Williams, who has worked in the school for nine years, said that unlike patrol officers, who spend much of their day dealing with problems, his job is overwhelmingly positive.

Williams would know — when school is out of session, he works as a patrol officer on afternoon and midnight shifts.

Principal Lynn Scalia praised Williams, saying he’s able to deescalate situations better than just about anyone she’s ever met, which is important when dealing with students.

Scalia said school safety has been an increasing priority for parents, and it’s something that her parent advisory board brought up last year.

Police Chief Dale Johnson said the program — which has been going on for more than a decade — is working as designed, as evidenced by no changes being made to the contract between the city and school district.

“It’s a great program,” Johnson said. “The benefits are added safety for everyone down at the school, having a liaison between the school and law enforcement, him serving as a role model for students, there’s just a whole variety of things.”

Williams spends most of his time at Park High and Sleeping Giant Middle School, though he goes to all five schools in the district. He can also monitor security cameras at each school from his office inside the front door of the high school

Amid more focus on school shootings, Williams also provides a deterrent and helps educate teachers and students on the best way to deal with a potential intruder situation.

Over the past nine years, he said that an increasing problem has been cyber bullying over cell phones by students. He said he often also deals with students having vaping devices and disorderly conduct.

Williams said he deals with violations of the law, while school administrators deal with violations of school policy, but that’s a small part of his job.

“I don’t write a ticket every day,” Williams said. “Sometimes I’ll go a week or two without writing a ticket.”

His other tasks include helping teach students about the police in government class, going to driver’s education classes and talking about dealing with the police to future drivers, attending meetings to help students and just providing a positive male role model for students.

Williams said he makes so many contacts in the community, between students, parents and other family members. He said walking through the grocery store, students will often point him out to their parents.

“This is a very positive job. Most of my contacts are positive,” Williams said. “I put myself out there and make sure the kids and parents have positive interactions with the department.”