School Resource Officer (SRO) Robert Masten is enjoying his role as an official liaison between the Milford School District, the Milford Police Department (MPD) and the Milford community. Making the move from patrolman to SRO, he has made a smooth transition into a position where he interacts with Milford students and parents.
Graduating from Milford High School in 1994, Masten began with MPD in 2002 where he has served in several capacities including patrolman and community policing. Masten is no stranger to working in schools, receiving his SRO National Certification in 2005, he worked as the Milford School Resource Officer following officer Dave Taulbee. In 2013 Masten took over the position again after former School Resource Officer Joey Melvin accepted a job as Management Analysis under the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
Masten’s experience as an SRO has helped him to understand and facilitate the responsibilities of the role quickly. Serving all six schools in the Milford School District, he is a critical part of implementing the new comprehensive emergency plans, that are mandated for all public schools by the State of Delaware. Masten believes that this position is an opportunity for the Milford Police Department to have a positive impact on the lives of students, increasing the chances that they will have a continued relationship with the police after graduation.
“Part of the responsibilities of this job is being a counselor, working with students on issues in the school,” stated Officer Masten. “It allows the students and parents to see police in a different light, it is typically a positive reaction where as in the field the interaction is usually due to a negative situation. The officers that serve in this capacity usually end up with good relationships in the community.”
Officer Masten also sees it as his duty to educate students about safety in their every day lives, preparing them as they make decisions on the internet and other social networks. In additional to general safety, Masten believes it is necessary that the students understand the true consequences and dangers of their actions online.
“The big thing now is teaching these kids that when they put out photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram those photos will always be there,” stated Masten. “ Even if they are only up for a few seconds, all it takes is someone to see those photos and save them.” Among older students, officer Masten also warns against sexting, where individuals share inappropriate photos with each other. He states that “those photos usually end up being seen by more than the intended audience.”
As School Resource Officer Masten continues his duties at the schools he will be responsible for the implementation of new school safety regulations that are constantly evolving, including a new bill in the Delaware legislature that aims to mandate two-way locks on every door at all public schools in Delaware. The Milford School Board of Education has already made several changes to school entrances in the name of safety and is expected to hire three additional school resource officers by the end of this school year.
Committed to providing a safe environment for students, teachers and parents, officer Masten finds the most rewarding part of his job is the time he spends with the students. “The interaction with the students is my favorite part of the job, it is rewarding to have the opportunity to build those relationships,” stated Masten. “