Balancing Double Duty: Honoring School District Police

Balancing Double Duty: Honoring School District Police
By: Lauren Blakenship
Their days kick off by opening doors for students, greeting them as they walk inside, and starting each day off with a smile. As they patrol each campus’s hallways, School District Police Officers have the unique opportunity to not only be a source of disciplinary action, but to be influencers on each student that they come in contact with.

KISD police with smiling studentsFor KISD’s School District Police Officers, working with the youth is the best part of their job. Officer Brazier (Ellison High School) joined the KISD team knowing that the best way to connect with the youth is to be right there with them at school and be a presence on their campus. Brazier explained that you have to build relationships with the students to earn their trust and respect. His role has allowed him to be a positive influence on the students that he has met. His mentor, Corporal Laird, expressed that he has “never seen students react to an officer like they have with [Brazier]; you can see that the students have a great respect for him.” Brazier, humble in his remarks, said he is working to build relationships not just for himself, but for the reputation of the whole KISD Police Department.

Smiling KISD PD Officer Corporal Matazzaro, Shoemaker High School’s School District Police Officer, trains new officers as the state school-based law enforcement instructor. While his main focus is the students, he doubles as a mentor for new officers in the district. “My goal is to instill in them an ability to work with students and be a positive example for them.” Matazzaro implements a unique strategy with students at his campus in moments of crisis, which he refers to as ‘walk and talk:’ when tensions rise, he has learned through his 35 years in law enforcement that the best thing to do is to walk the hallways with the students and allow them to explain the situation to him.

“You don’t automatically get respect from students simply because you are wearing a badge. You must show respect first to eventually receive it,” he claims; “We have the opportunity to mentor young people in addition to our regular law enforcement duties.”

While the job certainly comes with its challenges, the Killeen Independent School District Police Department takes each day in stride knowing that they have the ability to change a student’s life. Officer Gingerich, nicknamed Officer Gigi by students, explained that “We’re here for the kids. That is our job. We’re not here to just hem them up, we’re here to help them succeed.” Matazzaro echoed Gingerich’s sentiments, concluding that he “wants students, staff, parents and the community to understand that when a police officer takes a job with the school district, it becomes much more than just a job: they become a part of the school district, a part of the family.”

Saturday, January 9, is recognized as Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Here in Killeen ISD, we are grateful for each officer’s service to our campuses, impact on our students, and continued influence on our community.