Local schools discuss importance of resource officers

LOVES PARK, Ill. (WIFR) -- Safety can be a big concern for parents sending their kids off to school this semester.

Some local schools are talking about the importance of the protection of having a school resource officer on campus.

"You're basically a law enforcement officer first, the second level is you're a teacher, and then third you're like a counselor," said former Harlem Middle School resource officer Jerry Guetschow.

After 11 years as a school resource officer, Jerry Guetschow knows the importance of having officers on campus.

"I was communicating with 11, 12, and 13-year-old kids, and a lot of times they have a bad idea of what police are, and I think this really opens the door for developing that relationship," said Guetschow.

Mark Dallas, the resource officer praised for stopping a shooter at Dixon High School is encouraging people to support Illinois House Bill 5887, which would help schools afford officers.

"In the next few weeks, children throughout our country will be returning to school. Every one of them deserve to be safe. Sadly not all of their schools will be protected by school resource officers," said Dallas.

Harlem School District has three resource officers - one each at the middle school, high school, and freshman campuses.

"Having these officers in our buildings, getting to know the kids, building those relationships. We've really seen a positive benefit from that," said Harlem School District Director of Stakeholder Engagement Jason Blume.

Guetschow agrees that these officers can build meaningful relationships and save lives.

"It's a scary uniform I get it, but if you break down that barrier, you're just like anybody else," said Guetschow.

Rockford Public Schools currently have ten school resource officers. On the other hand, South Beloit will not be able to afford one this year, but says they are looking into it for next year.

The Meridian School District will have an officer for the first time this school year.