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Parma school resource officer describes role in protecting students

Patrolman Robert Curtin with the Parma Police Department now acts as a full-time school resource officer for Shiloh and Greenbrier Middle Schools.

PARMA, Ohio — At Shiloh Middle School, officer Robert Curtin is greeted by students in a flurry of waves and high fives. The school resource officer in Parma has over two decades of law enforcement experience under his belt, but decided to pivot to work in the schools because of his love of children.

“I just love the kids, I love working with them,” he said. “I think they need somebody their corner.”

As a father of two children who are in their twenties now, Curtin understands the importance of keeping students safe.

“One of our primary duties is security,” he said. “The children, in order for them to learn, they need to know they’re in a safe environment. I think I help provide that.”

Curtin said he first began pushing for a school resource officer program with the Parma Police Department about two years ago. He went to the chief and superintendent and told them he thought it would be “worthwhile.”

From there, he attended 40 hours of training in Columbus through the Ohio School Resource Officers Association. He became a fulltime school resource officer for the two middle schools in January. During the summer months when school is not in session, he returns to the position of patrol officer with the Parma Police Department.

“The purpose of the school resource officer program is we’re supposed to kind of bridge the gap between law enforcement and children,” he said.

Officer Curtin said he tries to stay out of school disciplinary action. However, he said when it comes to issues where students could be charged criminally, he attempts to mediate those situations. He also assists the school with implementing building security measures, such as ALICE training for active shooter situations.

In addition to providing security, Officer Curtin also hopes to be a friendly face to students.

“I want to be as visible as possible so they see me walking around and they see my presence,” he said. “When I first got here in January, some of them were afraid of me, so I had to stop that right off the bat. I needed them to know I’m here for them, I’m not here to watch them or babysit them.”

Ken Hall, better known as Coach Hall, bravely chased out the Chardon school shooter ten years ago. Hall said SROs are important to have in schools.

“It’s about having a good guy with a gun taking on a bad guy with a gun,” he said. “You need to have an SRO in every building in your district. If you don’t, you need to reevaluate what’s going on.”

When asked if the two middle schools are safer with him in there ready to take action should the need arise, Officer Curtin replied, “absolutely.”

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