CASEY, Ill. (WTHI) - As violence continues to rock the nation, another Wabash Valley School District is working to improve safety.
The Casey-Westfield School District is bringing back a School Resource Officer position The School Board approved the decision back in September.
This isn't the first time Casey-Westfield has had a School Resource Officer. The district used to have one until funding for the position went away. In recent stories, News 10 has shared funding for education in Illinois has leveled out. So now, this position is being brought back.
News 10 caught up with the officer taking the job. It's Casey Police Department Patrolman, Wayne Woods. He says he's looking forward to taking on this new role.
Woods shares, "Some unfortunate events have happened as close as Mattoon, Illinois, which is like what, 35, 40 minutes away. And it's unfortunate that it is a necessity, but I'm excited to do it. From what I understand with speaking with other SRO's, it's the hardest I'll ever work as a police officer."
Woods says he’s gone through special training for the position. But, a lot of this job is making connections.
Woods explains, "You're not only being a law enforcement officer, but you're also being a mentor, being someone they can talk to. Being someone they can basically vent. You play a dual role."
Part of that dual role is providing more protection to the school. Which parent Linda Maulding says she can definitely get behind.
Maulding reflects, "Still with just watching any of the news you get nervous about school shootings, and then when your kid comes home and tells you about different kids, you kind of worry about, 'This could happen here.'"
Maulding also hopes by Woods stepping into this role, he could be someone that students like her daughter could confide in.
Maulding shares, "I think that she'll be more comfortable with having a cop around. I just think there's some comfort to that. And I think it will help stop anything that might be in the works."
As for Officer Woods, building these strong relationships with students, and giving a positive impression of law enforcement are both goals.
The officer says, "I think it is very important that we start with the youth and teach them that there are bad apples in every industry, to include law enforcement, unfortunately, but not every law enforcement officer is a bad person."
Woods got his EMT Basic in 1997. He spent more than 20 years working as a paramedic in this area, as well as out of state. In 2011, Woods got sworn in as a police officer in St. Elmo, Illinois. He took a job with the Casey Police Department in June 2017. Woods is set to start his new position in January.
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