Learning is most effective when it occurs in a safe and secure environment. The Waukee Community School District is always working to ensure that all students and staff are provided with an environment that is comfortable and safe. Part of facilitating an environment that helps to care for the safety and wellbeing of our students is the implementation of our School Resource Officer (SRO) program.
The SRO program includes four officers who work within our secondary schools:
- Sergeant Hector Arias, Waukee Middle School & Prairieview
- Officer Nick Gilcrest, Northwest High School
- Officer Dace Richardson, Waukee High School
- Officer Corby Robbins, South Middle School & Timberline
Sergeant Arias oversees the SRO program and has played a huge role in its success. As the leader of the team, he has navigated many challenges. But through it all, he always makes sure to prioritize the students–their safety, their feelings, and their wellbeing. He’s a police officer, but above it all, he is a human who cares.
Each day is different–whether it’s monitoring schools, responding to emails, checking in with his other three officers, guest speaking in a class, or building relationships with students. He finds excitement in not knowing what to expect each day.
“My day consists of many things around the city. But my favorite part about my job is the kids. I’ll always try to stay for lunch or stand in the hallway during passing periods. I just like to talk to the kids and make sure they are okay. I’ve really formed a good relationship with many students where they feel like they can trust me enough to talk to me about anything.”
Sergeant Arias shares how the best SROs are the ones that can relate to the kids and respond with a commonsense approach. Whenever a student comes to him with a personal issue, he gives them advice that he would give his own children.
“I’m not a counselor, I’m just a human who wants to help others. I want people to know that I am approachable and that I can help in any way possible.”
With an extensive background in law enforcement, Sergeant Arias has gained many experiences that have helped him as a police officer and leader. Starting off in the military, he learned what it meant to order and follow commands. He states that much of his experience in the military and law enforcement have overlapped. Sergeant Arias gained respect, problem-solving skills, devotion, and strong communication through both careers. He met some key people and formed relationships with them that have further helped him in his professional life.
Sergeant Arias has also enjoyed leading the other three School Resource Officers. All coming together with different backgrounds, the officers work as a team to ensure safety in the district. Sergeant Arias notes how often they communicate with each other to reflect on their work. If he feels that another officer would be a better fit in a situation, he’ll ask them to come to that particular school for support.
Through it all, Sergeant Arias prioritizes the kids. He believes that no one should be defined by their mistakes. Everyone should have the opportunity to grow, and to get a second chance.
“I make sure to treat the kids how I would treat any adult. Kids are human. They have feelings too. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone should be able to learn from them to make sure it doesn’t happen again. My job is to help them through this. I don’t want to be seen as scary, or intimidating. I want them to come to me when there is an issue. Ultimately, I just want everyone to be safe and comfortable in the school environment. I love my job because I can see how kids evolve in these years. They start off as one person, and they leave with completely different intentions and perspectives.”
Our district is very fortunate to have the SRO program. Thank you to Sergeant Arias and the rest of his team for all of their hard work and dedication to ensure the safety of Waukee CSD students, staff, and the surrounding community.
For more information about the SRO program or to contact an officer, click here.
Photos courtesy of the City of Waukee Facebook.