Yankton officials have a little more insight into the school resource officer (SRO) program many of them helped to initiate a couple years ago.
During its regular meeting Monday night, the Yankton City Commission was addressed by Preston Crissey of the Yankton Police Department (YPD) and who also serves as the Yankton School District’s SRO.
Crissey told the commission about the main goal of an SRO program.
“The basic foundation of it is to get us to have a good working relationship with our school, the faculty, the students, parents and then the community as well,” Crissey said. “It’s a collective thing with the city and the school district to have such a unique partnership.”
Crissey, who just completed his first school year as an SRO, said that he logged 289 calls for service during his first year, but noted that not all of these are an indication of trouble.
“I know that’s an alarming number, but what I want to emphasize is that when I say ‘calls for service,’ we document lockdown drills, fire drills,” he said. “When I go and do a public speaking engagement at the elementary school, we generate a call for service for that as well. I know that’s a large number. A lot of times, too, it’s talking to a parent about a situation that’s happened at school, not always necessarily a bad thing.”
He said that 92 of those calls for service generated a case report.
Crissey said that there were 22 arrests and 35 citations with many of the citations concerning a new trend among young people.
“That’s primarily the vaping issue that schools have (dealt with),” he said. “I’m proud of our school district because they have us do a mandatory citation for vaping. Some of the school districts in South Dakota don’t do that, and I think they have a much worse problem by not doing that.”
Commissioner Amy Miner — herself a teacher at Yankton High School — praised the work that Crissey does for the district.
“As somebody who swims in the Yankton High School ecosystem as well as this City Commission … it makes a huge difference,” Miner said. “You’ve spoken of so many tangible things, instances you deal with, the way you handle kids, parents, administrators and teachers. The one intangible that I think you haven’t spoken about that I think is so critical, and that I think you’re doing such a good job with, is building relationships in every one of those venues. I think it was great foresight on the part of the commission ahead of us and on the part of the school board to say, ‘It’s time for Yankton to have an SRO.’ I think we’re utilizing it to the best of our ability.”
Crissey said that he’s enjoyed the experience.
“It is rewarding when you’re in the middle of a hallway and a student comes up and gives you a hug,” he said. “You can tell that you’re impacting their lives and vice versa. It’s a very good feeling.”
In other business Monday, the commission:
• Approved several alcohol permits.
• Approved rental rate raises at the Summit Activities Center.
• Approved two special events parking requests.
Follow @RobNielsenPandD on Twitter.