A police car parked near the entrance to a school building doesn’t always signal trouble.
In fact, these days, schools rely on police – known as school resource officers – to help reduce the number of emergency calls to the buildings.
Jim Olson talked with one SRO about why she couldn’t wait for the chance to patrol the halls of Williston schools.
(Heather Cook, WPD School Resource Officer) “I would never say there is a bad kid. There’s kids that make bad choices.”
That’s why Heather Cook has become a school resource officer – a cop assigned to the middle and elementary schools in Williston. Maybe she sees a bit of herself in some of the young students.
(Heather Cook, WPD School Resource Officer) “I was a little bit of a troublemaker.”
But her path was cleared thanks to two officers in Bismarck’s schools where she graduated.
(Heather Cook, WPD School Resource Officer) “I would say in a way, if I didn’t have interactions with them, I would not have turned out as good as I did.”
Now, she’s taking what she learned first hand
“Better move. What class you going to?”
And applying it in Williston.
(Heather Cook, WPD School Resource Officer) “You never really know what’s going on with a kid at home. They could be walking in with the weight of the world on their shoulders and you’d never have an idea unless they say something to you.”
You’ll see her greeting kids in the halls.
“How’s it goin, buddy?” “Good.”
And even playing alongside the students in gym class.
“You ready for this?”
(Duane Noeske, Williston Middle School Principal) “The role is making connections with kids. They know they have someone they can rely on, lean on, and visit with.”
(Heather Cook, WPD School Resource Officer) “You feel like you’re a mentor to everyone. They’re all kids, they make mistakes, you’re here to guide them in the right direction.”
It’s a job she says fills her career goal – to make a difference in young lives when mistakes can easily happen.
(Heather Cook, WPD School Resource Officer) “If you can correct that before they become an adult you may help avoid putting them through the system. That’s my goal.”
In Williston, Jim Olson, KX News.
Officer Cook says it was Bismarck school resource officers Perry Lauer and Brett Anderson who helped guide her away from trouble, and into a life of law enforcement.