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At Chaska High School, Trent Wurtz is like a counselor, security officer, teacher, investigator and father figure — all at once.
He teaches bullying prevention, monitors Twitter and Facebook for harassment, tracks down youth gang members, confiscates prescription pills and other drugs, deals with stolen iPods or other school thefts, and on rare occasions, arrests students. More often, teens stop by his office, decked with a purple Chaska Hawks flag, to do everything from report harassment to vent about a relationship breakup.
Without officers like him, that work would be passed on to other school staff — if at all.
“If there wasn’t an officer here, it would go unreported,” said Apple Valley officer Doug Baird, a school resource officer at Eastview High School.
Officers try to blend into the school, cued into the latest trends or gossip and encouraging kids to text crime tips. In Minneapolis, Lt. Kim Lund even has school administrators on speed dial. While the numbers of school officers in Minneapolis hasn’t changed, Lund, the former president of the state group for juvenile officers, said elsewhere, positions have been reduced to part-time, or on-call. She worries that takes away a valuable connection between police and students.
“We want kids to see us in a positive place,” she said. “We don’t want them to feel afraid if something bad happens on the street to turn to us.”
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141 Twitter: @kellystrib
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