Deputy Brett Hansen is trading his boat in for textbooks, at least for now.
Hansen a Benton County sheriff’s marine deputy, started a new position this week in the Finley School District as its first full-time school resource officer in many years.
“I’m just walking around like the new kid in school,” he said earlier this week. “I get to meet the kids and meet the teachers. I went over to the middle school and met with the principal today.”
Officials say SROs make schools and the community safer by increasing how fast officers can respond to serious school violence and threats. And they allow other officers to stay out in the community handling calls.
For several years, the district in Finley shared Deputy Brad Klippert with the Kiona-Benton School District 30 miles away, which often meant the district would be waiting if there was an emergency.
While the response was always fast, Finley Superintendent Lance Hahn said it’s better to have a deputy on site.
When the sheriff’s office reached out to ask if they wanted a resource officer assigned to their school, Hahn agreed.
“All of the school resource officers have been good with our kids,” Hahn said. “They’re just a good presence to have around, especially with all of the stuff that is going on all over. It’s a security blanket to have a school resource officer on school grounds.”
On top of having the added safety, the change gives students a chance to interact with a law enforcement officer. Something Hahn and Hansen said is good for students.
“We want them to get used to knowing that this is a guy who can help them,” Hahn said. “He’s not another school administrator.”
Hansen will also teach the district’s DARE class, a class that teaches kids about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.
“We just want to make it a positive learning experience for the kids and give the staff some extra help,” he said.
While Hansen will be the school resource officer in the cooler months, he will return to the county’s boat on the river once classes are out for the summer.
Hansen is the second school resource officer for the county.
Richland, Pasco and Kennewick police departments have SROs in the high schools and some middle schools.