By Terry Rogers
School Resource Officer Theresa Bloodsworth says that one of the best parts of her job is seeing the smiling faces of children as they enter the elementary school buildings she serves. As the officer assigned to the four elementary schools in Milford School District, PFC Bloodsworth says that creating a bond between the children she is sworn to protect and the police department is the most important part of her job.
“I am a police officer and must also work on patrol even when school is not in session, like over the summer,” PFC Bloodsworth said. “There were times I had to go on calls to homes where children who attend the schools I serve were involved. They recognized me and were more willing to talk to me than to an officer they didn’t recognize. I have had children in school ask their teacher if they could come talk to me about something that is going on in their lives. That, to me, is the most important thing I do. Make kids who may not otherwise view the police in a positive light realize that we are there to help them.”
PFC Bloodsworth said that she decided to become a police officer when she took a job with the University of Delaware police. She said she always wanted to help people and the position sounded like a way to do that. She was not a student at the university and worked in the Traffic and Safety Department for three years. For a few years, Later, she transferred to the Clayton Police Department and while working there did some undercover drug work with Milford. She said that when the case ended, Milford expressed to her that there was an opening and encouraged her to apply.
Since Milford was a larger department than Clayton, PFC Bloodsworth felt that it would be a good move for her in order to expand her career as a police officer. When the opportunity presented itself for her to become a School Resource Officer, PFC Bloodsworth felt that it was a chance for her to make a better connection with kids.
“It lets children see police in a different light,” PFC Bloodsworth said. “Kids often don’t see us as people to talk to, they often just see us as people of authority. One of the students in school saw me the other day out of uniform and he was like ‘Whoa!’ because he never thought of me as just a regular person.” She said one challenge she faced when she became an SRO was learning how the school system worked while learning how to work with children one-on-one.
Working with children was not new to PFC Bloodsworth as she was a member of the First State Force band for a few years. The band is made up entirely of law enforcement officials and travel to schools throughout the state providing music with a positive message against bullying, drugs and violence. They use popular songs to teach students to respect others.
PFC Bloodworth said that parents could help by explaining that police officers are here to help them and to keep them safe. She said that the biggest issue all officers face is making children understand that their job is not just finding the “bad guy” but also to protect them and to educate children on ways to keep themselves safe.
“Just this week, we held 911 Day,” PFC Bloodsworth said. “We had emergency-related presenters come to the school and talk to the kids. I had one of Milford’s lieutenant’s talk to the children about the different hats they wear each day and the many duties a police officer must manage on a daily basis. We had probation and parole officers in to tell kids what they do and Carlisle Fire Company brought one of their engines. They also talked to the children about fire safety.” PFC Bloodsworth said that these types of presentations provide insight into the careers of first responders and let children see that they are human just like they are.
PFC Bloodsworth said that one of the hardest questions she is asked by children is whether she arrests little children. She said that it is a difficult question to answer because, although they never want to take children out of the school in handcuffs, there are situations where that may occur.
“I tell them that our main goal is never to arrest children,” PFC Bloodsworth said. “However, there are actions that can cause us to have no choice in the matter, such as hitting or bullying. Rather than try to scare them, I try to explain that every action has a consequence, so they need to be aware that the consequences of some actions may be getting arrested. As an SRO, my goal is to give them alternatives to dealing with problems before they reach the stage where the child could get arrested.”