With the start of the 2014-’15 school year students, parents and teachers will be introduced to additional School Resource Officers (SRO) for the Milford School District. Pfc Theresa Bloodswoth and Pfc Matt Smith will be working alongside SRO Robert Masten. Making the move from patrolman to SRO, Smith made the transition this year into the position where he interacts with Milford students and parents.
New to the School Resource Officer position, Pfc Matt Smith has been with the Milford Police Department for 12 years, receiving his training in 2002 alongside current School Resource Office Masten and Detective Dwight Young. Serving on patrol all 12 years, Smith has been a part of the fatal accident team and assisted with drug enforcement and DUI checkpoints. Smith reported to duty this year, stationed at the Milford Central Academy and although the daily operations are different than on the road, he states that the reward he receives from the job has remained the same.
“I am used to twelve hour shifts and reporting to scenes that sometimes were not so pleasant. [as an School Resource Officer] it is a lot more about meeting with children, counseling and communicating with the staff,” stated Officer Smith. “Still, when you see an individual that you can take care of and that you can help, it is rewarding to know that you can make a difference,” stated Officer Smith.
Serving all six schools in the Milford School District, this year’s three School Resource Officers will be a critical part of implementing the new comprehensive emergency plans, that are mandated for all public schools by the State of Delaware. Smith and his fellow SROs believe 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.
“Some of the children only recognize law enforcement as the guys that took away their dad. Regardless of what dad may have done, it is still their dad,” commented Officer Smith. “This job allows us to speak with the kids and begin a relationship with them in a different setting. We want to build a positive relationship with them and enhance their trust of law enforcement.”
Smith states that the environment in today’s school system is very different than when he was enrolled in public education himself. What can be perceived by the kids as playing around or joking with their friends can now in some cases be considered crimes including assault and harassment. Add social media’s influence to the mix, and situations that start as innocent play by students can increase into serious offensives quickly. He states that these changes add to the importance School Resource Officers, counselors and teachers building a positive relationship with each child.
“Every kid is different and sometimes they just want someone to listen to them,” said Officer Smith. “The relationship has to be proactive so that the students will begin to make good choices on their own.”
As the school year continues, Officer Smith and the entire Milford Police Department continue to remind drivers to be cautious as there will be buses making numerous stops along with children walking to and from school. There will be increased police presence, in addition to the district’s School Resource Officers, around the area schools and bus stops observing traffic. The department reminds motorists that under Delaware law it is illegal to pass a stopped bus and to text while driving. If parents have any questions for any of the three resource officers they are encouraged to call the main phone number of any of the six schools in the district and ask for the School Resource Officer.