Behind the mask: A spotlight on Sergeant Rivas and CHS’s Campus Police Department

Sergeant Rivas and our school resource officers have been selected for our behind the mask series this week. As head of campus police operations, we had the pleasure of interviewing Sergeant Rivas to learn more about what our police department here at Cherokee does.

Training and Education:

I asked Sergeant Rivas to explain the process of becoming a campus resource officer. Most campus policemen seem to already have a career history in the field.

He explained that before even applying for the police academy, you must have graduated with a high school diploma. Following high school, you can apply to become a police officer. You then must attend and graduate the police academy. Each academy and state requirements differ, however, most take six months to complete. Note that it is possible to complete the police academy prior to applying to be a police officer. After becoming a police officer, you must complete at least five years of experience.

Sergeant Rivas completed 20 years of law enforcement experience prior to becoming a school resource officer (SRO).

To become a School Resource Officer, you must also go to a specialized school resource officer training program and complete the additional educational prerequisites.

Sergeant Rivas continued by sharing some of the other trainings, classes, and courses he has taken in order to be in his position. He has taken levels one, two, and three of supervision classes, levels one, two, and three of management, and a training and intervention class for those with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.

Everyday Duties:

During the typical school day, Sergeant Rivas arrives to the school in the morning to be able to take on necessary tasks, such as responding and sending out emails and preparing for the day’s schedule. Because Sergeant Rivas is in a leadership position at Cherokee High School, his duties are increased.

Officer Rivas begins his day with many administrative tasks.

Following his office routine, Sergeant Rivas goes out to the bus lanes to watch the kids arrive and oversee any problems that may occur. Some of his other duties include directing bus traffic and direct students getting on and off buses.

After his early day duties, he patrols the school by walking around the hallways, checking on teachers, and checking on students during lunch.

Another duty he has is to handle and assist when problems or altercations arise. When called in, he handles each situation differently depending on what the situation or altercation is.

At the end of the students’ school day, he returns to the bus lanes to make certain everything is running smoothly and assist if a situation arises.

These responsibilities are only a few of what the position entails as our school resource officers are also involved in security detail during hours outside of the school day and student holidays.

The Students:

During the interview, Sergeant Rivas mentioned that the reason he became an SRO was to reach students and make an impact on their lives while it is most effective.

When asked about what he appreciates about our students’ actions, Sergeant Rivas stated, “They’re polite. “They say good morning. They say hi.”

He then shared stories of students giving him Christmas cards, students thanking him and telling him they appreciate what he does after their graduation ceremony, and a student’s parents stopping him during early dismissal one day saying that he did not know what a difference he had made in their son’s life.

A note of appreciation from a CHS student hangs in Officer Rivas’s office.

Sergeant Rivas also shared some of the areas he’d like to see improvement, particularly among students at Cherokee or between CHS and other schools. He noted that it is disappointing when he sees any rivalries, animosity, or division among students, and this desire to see unity is an outlook he’s had since he was in school. By contrast, we make our school proud when we’re supportive of one another.

Here at Cherokee, our school resource officers do immensely more than you may realize, and CHS is lucky to have a source of encouragement and support as they provide.

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