Badges and books: Officer honored for role at Cheney
West Fargo police Officer Todd Pearson is being recognized for his role as school resource officer at the community’s Cheney Middle School.
Pearson has been presented the Regional Exceptional Service Award by the National Association of School Resource Officers for Region 8, consisting of 10 Midwestern states.
“I have always had a long interest in helping youth with their challenges. I can relate to some of their situations, because not so many years ago I was there,” said Pearson, who received the award last week in Palm Springs, Calif.
A 1990 West Fargo High School graduate, Pearson has been a West Fargo police officer for 14 years.
Much of that time was spent as a patrol officer.
“This just seemed like the next step for me,” he said.
Pearson was the school resource officer at West Fargo High School from 2008 to 2011 and has held the position at Cheney Middle School for the past two years.
“It nice for students to have that connection with police on a different level,” said Don Lennon, school principal. “They see him as a human being and can approach him as needed.”
If students have issues, they can go to Pearson’s office and talk with him, said Lennon.
There are currently four resource officers working in West Fargo schools, one each at the two high schools and two middle schools, said Pearson.
In their role, school resource officers work as law enforcement officers, informal counselors and guest speakers, he said.
For instance, SROs help teach the Alive at 25 defensive driving courses for young drivers, he said.
They visit classrooms to provide information about drugs and alcohol. They participate in math classes to explain how accident scene investigations are done. They work with staff and students on emergency drills.
“We work closely with school counselors,” he said, with resources that might benefit students.
The officers work with school administrators, staff and parents, “creating the safest learning environment for these students,” he said.
“We’re not only there when things are bad,” said Pearson.
“Youth are faced with so many challenges these days. If they need somebody to talk to my door is always open. And I enjoy that part,” Pearson said.
Social media networking is the biggest challenge that school resources officers face day in and day out, he said.
“Middle school-aged children are right at the forefront of it,” he said.
When his current term as school resource officer is up, Pearson will return to police patrol work, he said.