Deputies making a difference daily in Norris Schools, through SRO program and more

Deputies making a difference daily in Norris Schools, through SRO program and more

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s office has initiated a new outreach effort “Lunch with a Deputy” to assist in building relationships with students and strengthening their knowledge of the work conducted by our local sheriff’s deputies. Deputies who are field patrol deputies will make occasional lunchtime drop-in visits to schools to connect with students, be visible, and get to know one another. Dr. Piening described the program as “a nice gesture of positive outreach and something our students really enjoyed.”

School Resource Officer Joe Gehr is assigned to the Norris Schools as part of his SRO duties; he also serves the Malcolm District. On this particular day, Deputy Gehr was covering  the 4th amendment with Mr. Koenig’s high school social studies classes. He talked about search warrants, the search warrant process and searches without warrants. Deputy Gehr said “The presentation went really well. The class was interactive and asked a lot of questions.” Veteran HS teacher Rick Koenig said having the expertise an SRO brings to class conversations makes the topics addressed academically even more relevant.

“I could lecture the students and give them much of the same information. I can't give them anything close to the authenticity that a professional law-enforcement officer can,” said Koenig. He continued, “Joe not only knows the application of the numerous court decisions regarding what the police can and cannot do, he has experienced the application of those rules in real life. As you might expect, Joe has really interesting stories that totally engage the students.”

In the past week in addition to assisting with issues around law violations or reportable incidents, Deputy Gehr continued his proactive efforts to build relationships with the Norris student population. He spoke to two of Judeen Price's 8th grade classes and covered a range of topics with them, addressing areas of student inquiry from assaults, to the dangers of K2 (synthetic marijuana) and marijuana, as well as offering advice for entering their high school years.

Learning the dangers of impairment: During one recent class visit, Deputy Gehr even brought the 'drunk goggles' to class and described the results that ensued when students “Had to try to do the heel to toe test with them on.” This popular hands-on prevention tool was used to help educate the students about the terrible consequences of alcohol misuse and abuse; the wearer experiences a realistic simulation of impairment visually through these goggles..

The Norris School District appreciates the active assistance and presence of our local partners in law enforcement and their proactive efforts to build relationships with our youngest citizens. When school is in session, the Norris District is one of the largest population centers in southern Lancaster County with +2,500 students and staff present. The district benefits from the services of a half-time SRO and is advocating for the possibility of expanded deputy presence through the School Resource Officer program. “From an outreach and intervention standpoint, having full-time law enforcement presence would be tremendously beneficial,” said Superintendent Dr. John Skretta.