School Resource Officer Ryan Welch leans in to check out a book being read by Bucksport High School freshman Ariel Chase on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. Credit: BDN file photo

These are difficult times. We are all looking into a future that is based on uncertainty and, to be honest, a lot of fear. I am a retired teacher of many decades. I worked in multiple schools as a chemistry teacher and had multiple programs at various universities. After retirement I’ve had the honor of being a substitute teacher at both the high school and middle school in York. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with many skilled and passionate people, including the many resource officers employed by our school systems.

These people represent the hardworking individuals that make our society work. Decades ago, I was not in favor of having the police be represented in our schools. I thought the idea was foolish and destined to fail. I changed my mind on this issue because of the observations I made during my time in education.

Understand, these men and women are in our schools to not only protect our population but to also become a part of it. These people represent the first time our children encounter law enforcement. This doesn’t mean anyone did anything wrong, it simply represents our next generation’s first impression of why we need the concept of police.

I know this because of my observations of how our resource officers interact with the people they are trying to protect. As a substitute teacher, I am able to observe what these people do. On many occasions I’ve watched these men and women walk through the hallways of our schools high-fiving students who walk past them. I watch them talking to our children about concerns they have. I see them taking pride that a member of our society spends the time to understand what the next generation represents.

These resource people teach our children what being a policeperson is. Our children learn through experience that a law enforcement person is not a threat but a support system to help them evolve through their school experiences. Many times, I’ve watched these people play four-square on the recess field. I’ve walked past them as they talked to young individuals, as a teacher would, trying to either advise or simply listen to what we all went through when we were a lot younger.

Students respect these people and are thrilled when they call out their name or simply relay that they not only want to understand them but also appreciate who they are.

We are all looking for ways to be able to afford our schools and our societies. We are all looking for a means to decrease our expenses because of our present realities. To eliminate resource officers from our schools may save money but will eliminate the incredibly good work they do.

To eliminate at an early age that the definition of police work is not adversarial and that police work is an intricate part of our society who is made up of people who are our family would be a major mistake.

Jim Fabiano of York is a retired teacher and writer.