Aberdeen Police Officer Bob Green has been adjusting to his new duties as the department’s “school resource officer.”
“I’m still in a transition period but it’s been a lot of fun so far,” said Green, 56.
The school resource officer works with school administrators and staff, law enforcement and the courts to promote order on school campuses. This person is also responsible for making presentations to civic groups, working with school safety committees, coordinating and participating in crime prevention activities and providing school district personnel with security training.
Green has been in the job for more than a month and said he has enjoyed the change of pace.
“I’m learning to eat lunch around others again,” he joked.
He used to eat lunch alone in his police car between incidents. Long and often busy work shifts didn’t allow him much time for meaningful conversations. Official exchanges with those involved with the service calls he responded to were the norm.
Now, Green is eating in the Aberdeen High School cafeteria alongside the students — sometimes — and taking in the high-energy atmosphere while he gets to know these youths.
When he first started working on the campus, observing the students move between classes and leave campus at the end of the school day was different from when he attended school himself and was amid the teenage hubbub.
“There are so many of them and they just burst out of the classrooms,” Green said.
He’s becoming accustomed to his surroundings.
“When you get to be my age you miss high school. I tell these kids to enjoy this time of their lives because you can’t re-live it,” he said.
Green spends a great deal of time walking around, watching what’s happening and, most important, interacting with students and staff. His primary responsibility is to be a police officer and he responds to crimes involving students and providing a secure environment on all of the community’s public school campuses. Helping youths get an accurate picture about law enforcement’s wide-ranging place in the community is also important, however.
“There’s a variety of kids here and some kids have a different home life than others,” he said. “I’ve never found a bad kid — they just need extra care.”
An outgoing personality is essential with this type of assignment because it requires public relations and counseling abilities as well as handling public safety responsibilities. Most kids get their ideas about police from how their families interact with law enforcement. Sometimes those dealings are negative.
Or they’ve only seen police officers on TV and in movies, he said.
Green was trying to talk to one kid whom he thought had something to get off his chest. But it took some effort to get the youth to open up about what was troubling him.
“He said to me, ‘I don’t like cops’ but I was able to get him to talk.”
Now the youth is feeling better and is no longer anti-cop, he said.
Providing advice and assistance to students who suffer from harassment and bullying by other youths or providing a sympathetic ear to kids who are trying to cope with familial challenges, such as parents getting divorced, are chief among concerns shared with him so far by local youths.
Having raised three children and being a grandfather twice-over provided Green with plenty of experience relating to young people. He’s also taught DARE, the anti-drug program, for a while and coached baseball and football.
“I try to give them advice from my experience as an officer and a dad,” Green said.
Another area where he has dealt with change was in his career: He became a police officer when he was 36 years old, after years in the timber industry. He was employed by the police departments in Elma and Montesano before coming to the APD about a dozen years ago.
Green is a skilled marksman and a member of SWAT along with serving as the school resource officer.
Most of his time has been spent at Aberdeen High School. He’ll begin visiting other schools as time goes on, he added.