Jointly funded School Resource Officer officially on the job
Crookston School District’s new School Resource Officer, Crookston Police Department’s Don Rasicot, started Tuesday as school resumed from the holiday break. His office was getting the finishing touches put on it as he met with the Times.
Rasicot, who is already quite familiar with the local schools, was hired as the SRO after the City of Crookston and School District created a partnership to accommodate a police presence in the schools. After their application for a federal COPS grant to help fund an SRO was denied, the city council and school board voted to split the costs, and move forward until they could re-apply for grant funding in the future. The initial agreement between the two entities is for four years, but both City and School District leaders have indicated a desire to find a way to extend the SRO partnership beyond the initial contract.
While every day might mean something different and his routine may change up, Rasicot says he will start out at Highland Elementary School in the morning before their first bell rings and continue on to the high school to greet teens arriving before their first class. Periodically, he will visit Washington Elementary to meet with individual classrooms to let children know he is present in the district.
“The kids at Washington get pretty excited when I visit, so, as to not create quite a distraction, Principal (Denice) Oliver suggested I visit classrooms individually,” Rasicot explained. “At Highland, lots of kids already know me and I’ll visit classrooms there, too.”
Inside Rasicot’s new office, plaques, photos and accreditations are shown, as well as “incentives” for “well-behaved kids” in the form of arcade games are available. Behind his desk, a Thin Blue Line American Flag and a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts neon sign are proudly displayed.
“I want kids to feel comfortable in here and I will be getting a futon so I can fit more people in my office, such as when I’d like to meet with parents and students at one time,” he added.
(According to usflags.com, the blue line, in the Thin Blue Line American Flag, is “what officers protect, the barrier between anarchy and a civilized society, between order and chaos, between respect for decency and lawlessness.”)
Rasicot hopes his presence will allow for more accountability (on the students’ part), provide some relief for school administrators, and open doors to needed conversations and resources that students might benefit from.
“There are some kids that may act out because of other issues such as not having access to food at home, parents that aren’t around, or other things,” stated Rasicot. “We can try to connect the dots and get some kids the help they need.
“The kids know me,” he added. “If I promise something, I’ll keep that promise. And I’ll expect the same from them, too.”