School Resource Officer, Ontario County Sheriff’s Deputy Zdenek Chumacero is getting ready for the first day of school at Victor High.
He says being an SRO focused on keeping students safe is a challenging, but rewarding job. It’s certainly different from doing road patrol.
“When you get to work in the school it’s a little different because you get to know the kids, their lives, their problems and their success,” Chumacero said.
Building relationships with teens is a top priority for school safety, according to a school resource officer (video)
In order to help students thrive, he says, one of the most important parts of his job is building relationships with teens.
“If you have a prior relationship with hat kid or that student, you have to learn how to kind of hug it and grasp it and then work together with the psychologist and the counselors,” Chumacero said. “So we work together and we pretty much come up with a plan.”
A plan, if he learns a student is experiencing emotional distress, either from that student, friends, teachers or parents.
“We try to diffuse the situation by either talking to them or getting the parents involved too,” Chumacero said.
SRO’s are present in every Ontario County district
Deputy Chumacero says every district in Ontario County has a resource officer like him available.
He’s trained to have safety measures in place, which include keeping a finger on the pulse of students’ mental health.
A key time to focus in, he says, is when students arrive and leave school grounds.
“Those are the key times, because that’s when you see the kids coming in,” Chumacero said. “And you see how their day’s are gonna go. Whether they look sad or happy, it matters a lot. It’s one of those things where you don’t have to search them or pat them down. You see them coming in and you see their faces, and you know whether there’s something else going on with them.”
More: Alyssa’s Law: How will New York schools implement panic buttons? (video)
Parents urged to have open conversations with children
His advice to parents? Talk to you children from a place of understanding every single day.
“Ask them, what happened in school today?,” Chumacero explained. “Did you eat lunch by yourself, did you eat lunch with friends? How was math class? And I think parents forget to do that sometimes.”
Parents relieved to have resource officers in schools
Parents say living in a time when school shootings happen far too often makes them appreciate having law enforcement in their schools.
“It’s invaluable to have Officer Z Here with the kids,” Victor High School parent Johnny Walker said. “Maintaining not only their safety but making sure they’re learning the right ways through life. So from a parent perspective it just brings a level of extra comfort.”
School starts next week
Victor Central Schools start next Tuesday and Chumacero says, he’s looking forward to a safe and productive year.
“I’m excited because there’s new faces now,” Chumacero said. “I get to see some kids who have moved into the district, and some of the kids from the intermediate school to the intermediate school now to the junior high. I get to see all they got into and how mature they are, and it’s a very good experience and I’m so happy to be doing this job.”
Rebecca is a veteran multimedia journalist serving as one of our core reporters in the Finger Lakes region. She is responsible for telling stories that matter to every day Upstate New Yorkers. Have a question or lead? Send it to [email protected].