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School resource officer provides security, friendship

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Last May, while the students and faculty at Crosswind Elementary School were counting down the days until summer vacation began, School Resource Officer Jason Bivens was counting down the days until summer vacation ended.

“I’m happy when I come to work in the morning, but I’m even happier when I leave at the end of the day,” said Bivens.

Anxious to spend a full school year (and many years to come) with his students, Bivens had only been the School Resource Officer at Crosswind since January 2017. His prior 12 years with the Collierville Police Department were spent on patrol and in the traffic unit.

When the position at Crosswind became available, Bivens quickly expressed his interest in the assignment with Collierville Police Administration, and was eventually chosen for the job.

“This isn’t a position you stay in for a few years and then move on to something else. You invest time with these kids to develop a good relationship as they grow older,” said Officer Bivens.

The Collierville Police Department implemented the School Resource Officer Unit with relationship building as an important goal. While creating a safe environment at school is the first priority for the unit, building trust between students and police officers benefits the entire community.

These students will grow into adulthood with a healthy foundation of law enforcement interaction.

Along with overseeing the safety of the students and developing a relationship from kindergarten to twelfth grade, School Resource Officers also serve as teachers.

For the elementary level, Bivens leads presentations that cover topics such as stranger danger and bike safety; for older students in fourth and fifth grade, they learn about issues they may soon encounter including the dangers of social media and drugs and alcohol.

The School Resource Officer Unit was established in the Town of Collierville in 1998 with one officer assigned to Collierville Middle School. The following year, a second officer was added to rotate between three elementary school campuses – this was the first time in the state of Tennessee that a School Resource Officer was placed in an elementary school.

The program continued to grow, and in 2013, there was a police officer assigned to every one of the Collierville Schools.

Officer Bivens believes that working in the elementary level is crucial for students to start building that positive association with law enforcement.

“I’m visible everywhere,” said Bivens. “Whether it is a fist-bump in the cafeteria to a seatbelt check in the car-rider line, I’m a part of their daily routine at school.”

Bivens even keeps a pair of safety scissors in his pocket to help open food at lunch – which he monitors for every grade level, every day, for almost three hours.

“He told me when he was first assigned here that he would not sit still,” said Crosswind Principal Dr. Andre Crafford. “He probably is not at his desk now, because the first lunch hour has started.”

Sure enough, Bivens was not sitting still. He was busy in the cafeteria saying hello to the kindergartners.

“School Resource Officers, in general, are a vital part of our staff. Officer Bivens is so very important to us – he not only keeps us safe, he has become a true friend to all students, parents and staff. We are fortunate to have Officer Bivens at Crosswind,” said Dr. Crafford.

“I love being with kids, and have my own,” said Bivens. “But now I have 863 adopted kids that have added so much joy to my life.”

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