School Resource Officer Position Paused


Former SRO, CJ Messke coaches a wrestling team of former students in 2018 at Salida High School. His position within the high school gave him opportunities to bond and work with students on a deeper level both in and out of the uniform.

Lucia Zettler, Website Manager

Since 2017, School Resource Officers have been a part of the Salida School District. They were seen in the halls, around the building, and even in classrooms. Now, the position has been temporarily suspended, and the school, along with the Salida Police Department (SPD), is trying to find the best way to move forward.

As the district assesses the roles of the SROs and whether they will return,  patrol officers are parked outside the schools every morning.

Principal Talmage Trujillo explained, “I met with Sergeant Cliff [of Salida Police Department] to discuss the morning police patrolman and his duties and how to continue that practice in a way that supports the school.”

Trujillo also noted how the response time of SPD has seemed to be unchanged whether SHS has had an SRO or not.

“Things don’t feel all that different because every time we’ve needed a police officer to come and help support us with a police matter, criminal matter, or any other support role, the police have responded very quickly.”

SHS has had a good relationship with SPD and SROs since the program was implemented in 2017.

CJ Meseke, who was the SRO from 2017 through 2019, explained what the job was like for him.

“During my time as SRO, I was able to learn a lot of new things I was not taught about in the police academy. I was given the opportunity to work alongside incredible educators, counselors, students and staff who helped me better understand this job and provide assistance and education in areas not given in a patrol setting.”

While Meseke was the SRO, he helped coach wrestling. He also helped create the Remind program dedicated to helping freshmen and sophomores learn how to drive. Meseke also  helped create and teach drug education classes.

“Teaching these classes and many others gave us the opportunity to take off the uniform and humanize ourselves a bit by teaching and answering all the questions high schoolers want to know and ask the police,” he said.

The role of an SRO is complex and very different from the role of a regular police officer. One of the problems that the school district and some students are experiencing is that the role of the SRO has been a bit unclear.

In September, Senior Jessie Rollins, the president of the Extraordinary Teen Council and City Council Youth Representative, sent out a survey to learn how students feel about the SRO position. One of the main results from the survey was that many students just don’t know what the SRO does.

Trujillo said, “One of the things that is going to be really important for us moving forward is clarifying the role of the SRO.”

At the end of the day, the goal of having officers in the school buildings is to help keep students as safe as possible.

“Almost all of us, if not all of us, have an aim to increase student safety,” Trujillo said. “Achieving student safety informs almost everything we do. Having an SRO on sight always comes with the aim to do just that, to increase student safety.”

Regardless of if we have an SRO or not, the SPD will still play a large role in keeping students safe.

Meseke explained, “Even though you might not see us everyday, we are still here and we will always care about your safety and success.”