Wadsworth City School District welcomes new resource officer

BY MATT MOORE

Wadsworth City Schools has put a greater emphasis on school safety this year than in previous years. With the vast number of students in the district, Wadsworth Schools decided to employ another school resource officer.

Officer Dan Shonk is a nine year veteran of the Wadsworth Police Department, which is the only department he has ever worked for. Last summer, he was asked to become the second resource officer for the entire school district. He officially started his new job this past September.

Shonk is stationed at Central Intermediate School, but his job requires him to float between all of the elementary schools and the middle school.

“I am in charge of security at eight buildings,” said Shonk. “There is only one of me so I try to get around to all the buildings throughout the day.”

Officer Shonk used handouts to help with his lesson about school safety. He walked the room to help those who had questions about it. This student had more questions about his job as a police officer. Photo by Matt Moore

Being a school resource officer requires a certain degree of skill and strategy. Officer Shonk makes sure that he is doing everything he can to protect the students and staff.

“It is important to me to be unpredictable so I am not on the same schedule every day,” said Shonk. “I need to be available throughout the day in case something comes up.”

With so many activities taking place at Wadsworth High School alone, only having one officer for the entire district is demanding. The current resource officer, Officer Innocenti, spends most of his time patrolling the high school.

“It was hard to get to all the schools in the district alone,” said Innocenti.

The addition of another officer helps the other schools get equal attention that the high school does when it comes to the safety of students.

“I pop in and out at the high school every now and then, but there’s always something to do and somewhere to be,” said Shonk.

Shonk also teaches classes about drugs and alcohol to middle school students. He hopes to speak in government classes on the laws of search and seizure and the rights of citizens. It is important for students to know that officers can help with anything and answer any question they might have.

Officer Shonk introduced himself to third grade students at Lincoln Elementary School while teaching a school safety lesson. Photo by Matt Moore

“Anything anyone needs that an officer can help with, they can come to me,” said Shonk. “We’re not the big, bad police officers that scare people. I’m here and I want to help.”

According to the Crime and Safety Surveys Program, in 2015 about 3% of students ranging from ages twelve to eighteen reported that they were afraid of attack or harm at school during the year. Students are frightened because of the multiple threats schools can receive during the year. During the 2015-16 school year, 79% of public schools recorded that one or more incidents of violence, theft or other crimes taking place, resulting in 1.4 million crimes total.

After the Parkland shooting, schools across the nation hired multiple temporary resource officers to deal with the fear from students and the countless false threats.

After the week of chaos, schools strengthened their safety precautions even further, WHS being one of them. Wadsworth City Schools decided it was time to hire another hand to protect all of the schools and the thousands of students they are trusted to keep safe.

“Having two people working has made the district much safer,” Innocenti stated.

While the high school does not always directly interact with Officer Shonk, the school district looks to benefit from his skill set in the months and years to come.

This story was printed in December. For more print articles, check out the full issue:

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