According to the U.S. Department of Education, over 40% of all public schools now have a police officer on staff.
Paul Johnson of the Klamath Falls Police Department says patrolling the halls of Klamath Union High School is a lot different than regular patrol.
“You’re dealing with completely different people.” Notes Johnson. “You’re dealing with kids that are growing up, and sometimes make mistakes.”
Johnson has been in law enforcement for 24 years.
He’s in his fourth year at K.U.
Principal Tony Swan says while Johnson isn’t a teacher, he still plays an important role. “You’re always an educator when you work in schools, and you’re influencing them. You’re a role model, and you’re trying to motivate students to be their best self.”
Swan adds safety has been a key element in a recent remodel of the school. “We designed the building to have his (Officer Johnson’s) office be right at the main hallway.”
“It’s an excellent layout.” Says Johnson. “More contained – safer.”
Student Miranda Garcia says she feels more comfortable having an officer on patrol. “It’s really good to know that there’s a resource officer here, because it give you assurance somewhat that you’re safe.”
Officer Johnson says the feeling is mutual. “They’re learning. Everything good about it, it makes me feel better to be around them and help them if I can.”
Paul Johnson is currently the only resource officer with the Klamath Falls City Schools district.
There are 3 school resource officers with Klamath County Schools at this time.