In an effort to minimize the number of juvenile crimes that take place in the Hackensack school district, a school police officer called a “school resource officer,” was hired 24 years ago to patrol the halls of the Hackensack school system. Now that officer is retiring and he says he has seen major changes.
Although 52-year-old Kenneth Martin says that kids aren’t any worse than they were 25 years ago, he says that kids are doing things in a different way. The advent of technology has created an environment that enables a 24-hour cycle of bullying, “sexting,” gossip and media.
In addition, Martin says that kids are bringing other problems to school. They are dealing with major issues at home that sometimes affect their ability to perform well at school. This can include everything from abuse, mental illness, and issues associated with broken homes.
Martin says that his presence in the school system allows kids to make a connection that police officers are there to protect them. He said, “When young people see a police car riding down the street, they have no connection to that officer. But when you have police in school, they can approach them. Their job isn’t to lock kids up for no reason, their job is to protect students.”
The chief of police says that Martin has helped to keep thousands of kids from entering the criminal justice system by providing discipline and education. Instead of allowing issues to end up in the court system, sometimes they can be deal with at the school level.
Source: NewJersey.com, “Pioneer in school policing looks back on success in Hackensack,” Rebecca D. O’Brien, July 8, 2012