New SRO aims to make valuable connections with students

School Resource Officer Taylor Schuldt talks to Alma Elementary students during lunch time. Schuldt plans to spend time at each district building throughout each week. Photo by Emma Alderman.

Kendyl Bolinder | @BolinderKendyl

School resource officer Taylor Schuldt said her main role is to form positive relationships with the students.

 “I think what a school resource officer does is kind of misconstrued a little bit. Before anything else, when I’m here, cop is the last thing on my list. I’m a mentor first. I’m a counselor. I’m here for that kind of stuff way before I’m here for anything criminal,” Schuldt said.

USD 329 officer Taylor Schuldt moved to Kansas from Georgia in 2017 with her husband, who is currently serving as a tanker in Fort Riley. Schuldt says she stays busy taking care of her two year old son. She has always wanted to go into law enforcement, as both her mother and father are long time police officers. She started in law enforcement as a dispatcher, then advanced to a jailer, and eventually a road deputy. Schuldt is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and homeland security, and dreams of someday being a special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

After receiving a grant in July, the Wabaunsee county sheriff’s department and school districts have been hard at work to better local youth’s education with the addition of school resource officers (SRO) at both Wabaunsee and Mission Valley schools.

In February, the Sheriff’s Department submitted an application for a “Cops Grant,” which is offered to agencies who are either looking to replace officers who were laid off due to lack of funding, or looking to expand operations in ways that would normally be difficult without additional funds. In July, the grant was offered to Wabaunsee county for two positions, which are now filled by officers in both districts.

According to Wabaunsee County Sheriff Rob Hoskins, the public has been requesting an officer in schools for a long time, but, with the county finances, it was not in the foreseeable future. 

“With the school safety issues and the school shootings happening around the country, the safety of the youths while they’re in school has become something that parents are really concerned about, so it was a public need, and it was a need we thought we needed to address, one way or another,” Hoskins said.

Superintendent Brad Starnes said the addition of an SRO, along with other resources in the schools, will help to provide a safe haven for students and staff.

“If we don’t first address social-emotional health and people don’t feel safe at school, we cannot expect student learning to take place,” Starnes said.

Along with helping out with odd jobs around the school as needed, Schuldt’s main role is to form positive relationships with the students. Schuldt’s duties include being an educational source to youth about topics such as seatbelt safety or stranger danger, getting to know the youth, and being present during any safety issues. Having an SRO will hopefully help reduce inappropriate student behaviors, develop a positive relationship between youth and law enforcement, and promote positive attitudes regarding the role of police in society. 

I don’t want younger kids to see me as something bad or something they’re supposed to be scared of, especially with everything going on in the world right now,” Schuldt said. “I want to make a positive impact on all the kids K-12 about what law enforcement does.”

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