Working with Others
Four other police jurisdiction exist within WCSDPD’s school district. Due to this, the officers work closely with other emergency responders, from fire to EMTs to other local police jurisdictions to try and create consistency. “School safety is the number one focus,” Mieras explains speaking of the SOS grant but also of the agency mission. “We need to bring all these agencies together on the same page.” The training and cooperation paid off recently when the area was the scene of a devastating fire.
The Washoe Drive Fire occurred in January, 2012 and in the two days it took to contain it 3,177 acres were charred, 29 homes burned and one woman died. Within the fire zone was a small school with about 300 students under the jurisdiction of the WCSDPD. Due to having practiced together, the children were loaded into buses and the buses evacuated from the area within five minutes.
Working with juveniles is often an over-looked and under-appreciated calling within law enforcement. Many programs putting officers in a position to make a positive difference within the lives of children have been cut or are in danger of being cut as fiscal times get tougher. In spite of this, departments solely dedicated to the academic environment and the safety of students and staff, such as the Washoe County School District Police Department, do exist throughout the country. These agencies are much more than just a school resource. The officers are an integral part of the schools and the community that they serve. Not only do they enforce rules, keep the peace and investigate wrong-doing, they also interact, inspire and mentor children who hopefully will not make choices that will lead them into lives that include criminal activity. “I think we’re cutting edge,” explains Mieras. “We are on the upper level of student safety and school safety. We strive to stay ahead of the game in all these aspects.” And if the Washoe Drive Fire evacuation is any indication, Mieras’ words accurately reflect this law enforcement agency’s success.
Michelle Perin worked as a police telecommunications operator with the Phoenix (AZ) Police Department for eight years. She has an M.S. in Criminology and CJ from Indiana State University and writes full-time from Eugene, Oregon. For more information, visit www.thewritinghand.net