The South Milwaukee Police Department (SMPD) and the School District of South Milwaukee (District) have worked collaboratively since 1988 (27 years!) to provide a police liaison officer in the middle school and a police liaison officer in the high school during the school year. The position is also sometimes known as the juvenile officer or the school resource officer. For the 2016-2017 school year, the High School officer will be Officer Kozlowski and the Middle School officer will be Officer McLean.
The police liaison officer has several roles in the district. One of the main purposes of the liaison office is to provide the students with the opportunity get acquainted with a police officer in an informal setting and help students recognize the positive aspects of the police system. Additionally, the liaison officer may speak with students in classrooms, hallways or small group meetings to educate students regarding the mission of the SMPD or regarding specific educational issues. Oftentimes the liaison officer will remind students to walk and not run through the hallway or step in to provide informal mediation when a discussion gets too rowdy in the lunchroom.
The liaison officer may also be involved in investigation of school rule violations. Depending on the individual circumstance, the officer may help the administration by talking with student witnesses, search a locker or talk with those involved in the actual violation. During this time, the officer is acting as a partner to the district and must follow the same types of rules that school principals must follow. On occasion, the school violation may also be a South Milwaukee or State of Wisconsin ordinance/law violation. When this occurs, the liaison officer must follow the SMPD or state rules regarding the incident, which may include issuing a ticket.
Finally, the liaison officers teach the DARE classes in the 5th grade classrooms throughout the district. Two elementary schools will have DARE in the fall and the other two will be taught by the liaison officers in the spring. The DARE program educates students about the perils of drugs and alcohol, and is the beginning of a positive relationship between students and the SMPD.
Building positive relationships is a priority for the district and the SMPD. Parents will not receive a phone call each time a liaison officer talks with your student. If two students are visibly upset with each other in the hallway, the liaison officer may pull them over to the side to help resolve the issue and then send them on their way. This typically would not result in a phone call home. If the liaison officer is assisting the administration with a school violation, parents typically will receive a phone call from the school. If the incident becomes a larger issue with beyond-school potential consequences, the liaison officer will be contacting the family.
The district welcomes our liaison officers to our schools and looks forward to a positive school year!