December 2, 2015 Rexburg, Id. The Standard Journal posted an article written by titled “Valuable resource: Officer Scott’s efforts help shape young people”
So many people have ideas on what resource officers do in schools, yet Caleb Despain actually went into Madison Middle School and saw for himself what a school resource officer is all about. It changed his mind and beliefs in short order and his preconceived notions were turned around quickly. Yet Caleb doesn’t yet fully understand the whole story either.
While the well written article indicates how Officer Scott interacts in the middle school with the kids that he is assigned to be with and how the kids perceive the Officer. More of a friendly mentor than anything, someone that the kids can trust above and beyond most adults. What is not shown is the actual bond that grows between the kids and their D.A.R.E. Officer that few people can ever know.
The article goes into how Officers in the school have changed from when Caleb was in school as Caleb states: “When I was growing up, the resource officers at my school were nice but I kept my distance, feeling that such officers were only there to deal with troubled kids. Not officer Scott. In my short time with him, I saw him reach out to all kinds of children as they met him with smiles or looks of admiration.”
While Caleb was looking for his story to publish he interviewed the Officer who stated “My focus is to be a liaison for law enforcement in the school district, but there’s so much more,” Scott shared. “Building relationships with kids, showing them the positive side of law enforcement and teaching D.A.R.E..”
Again, while shadowing the Officer Caleb learned much about the D.A.R.E. program itself and how it is not just about “saying no” but about learning to be nice, how to deal with social situations and helping each other.
Caleb continued with an interesting point stating: “After class, Scott and I discussed some of the changes to the D.A.R.E. program. He said about the only drugs covered by D.A.R.E. today include tobacco and alcohol. “The emphasis has shifted completely. As a matter of fact, the only two drugs I talk about in the curriculum are alcohol and tobacco,” he said.”
Scott said he felt this most recent D.A.R.E. curriculum, which is only 4 years old, is much better than previous versions because it places the focus on good decision-making. “If you teach kids to make good decisions, they are not going to do drugs,” Scott said. “If you teach them to make good decisions they are not going to bully. They’re going to handle their stresses. They’re going to handle their emotions in a different way.”
“It’s a whole different side of law enforcement,” Scott said. “I actually feel like I’m really making a difference. I mean, before, when I would arrest people, I’d get the drugs off the street. That was my making a difference, but coming here I actually feel like I’m changing lives and guiding kids to be their best.”
Scott said although he loves what he does, he knows someday he will eventually move on, and that will be difficult. “I’m going to miss it tremendously,” he said.
He ended his well written article with the following: “My visit with officer Scott changed my mind about many things. Instead of being there to stop school shootings or arrest problem children, police resource officers seem to fill a much larger role. They are shaping children’s behavior for the better. Officers such as Scott are in a unique position to be both police officers and educators that use education as a tool to hopefully encourage youth to start making good decisions early on. The right kind of officer, like Scott, can not only decrease criminal behavior, but maybe, over time, prevent it.”
I am not sure if Caleb understands what a gold mine Rexburg has in Scott. He is much more than a School resource Officer. Being trained in the D.A.R.E. program is or at least was not an easy thing to do. It is a rigorous training after an intense background and many candidates failed to make the cut “back in the day”. I highly doubt that much has changed on that accountability scale.
I do hope that Rexburg continues with the program for so many reasons, as many as they have Middle school students this year. Because each one of those kids is a reason for the program to continue.
I can personally attest that Shawn Scott of the Rexburg Police Department will indeed miss the kids that he teaches and they will miss him. In fact in years to come he will see these very kids he once taught. They will be the dentist that he goes to, the secretary that takes his appointment, the repairman that comes to his home to work on his appliance. They will be the person that sells him an item from a department store or fixes his vehicle. He will see them on the road and they will “double take” then wave frantically at him.
Shawn Scott will be greeted with warm smiles, strong handshakes, a tearful hug and stories of former students whereabouts. Their families, how they are doing where they have been and what they have done. Who has had children, who married who, who went into the service and sometimes you share the bad news that someone “didn’t make it”. But most of all he will be told what a strong positive impact he made in their lives.
He will be thanked over and over and over. Oddly enough, I also know that Officer Scott will secretly be thinking that he is the one who is thankful for the opportunity to have been able to have worked with these amazing people.
He will remember these young people many years later and be amazed at the adults that they grew up into and be proud that he had just a little bit to do with that but most of all he will miss them and the days that he was their mentor, friend and confidant.
I loved the article thatwrote about D.A.R.E. Officer Shawn Scott. I hope to see a follow up article in 15 years because that is when you see the pay off from Middle School kids with a Police officer in their class to adults who just care about each other and making it a better world we live in.
Photo Credit Standard Journal
To Officer Shawn Scott – if you read this, I suggest you take a lot of pictures, bump a lot of fists, do a lot of high fives, enjoy every car wash, every event, let the kids work their own graduations out and make it special. Because they are, just like every young person you have is, they are all special, they all have a story to tell and they all have to be part of the team. Oh and did I mention take a lot of pictures?
Enjoy it brother