At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, a new student resource officer (SRO) started working at Red Mountain High School. Officer Dustin Harris has 11 years of law enforcement experience. He has been a detective, a patrol officer and trained incoming officers at the police academy. Being an SRO is a dramatic change for Harris, and he feels privileged to watch students as they mature.
“I view this moment in the lives of teenagers as crucial on a personal and social level,” Harris said. “Being able to see those students grow and learn about the true purpose of law enforcement—gaining a positive outlook on law enforcement—is a rewarding experience for me.”
As an SRO, Harris will teach 180 hours in the classroom each school year, remain on school grounds for 80 percent of the school day and establish protocol with staff in situations that may occur. Keeping up with all these responsibilities requires self-discipline.
“Working as SRO, I’ve experienced various cases with students, from drugs cases to fights, I handle it all,” Harris said. “Handling teen cases are completely different than adult cases, yet at the same time take more effort on my part trying to help students step away from the issue at hand.”
Part of Harris’ personal goal at Red Mountain is to make an impact on student lives. He does this one person at a time in hopes that his good attitude will rub off on the other students.
“You have to stay focused on your goals in life. There comes a time when we to decide where we want to go,” Harris said. “I know if I make an impact on students’ lives, if I see them smile, laugh, enjoy themselves, then I know I’m doing my job right.”
Harris looks forward to being the SRO for the next few years until he applies for a sergeant in law enforcement. As SRO, Harris is at the Mesa high school to listen and guide. To report a situation, text the anonymous Red Mountain Tip Line at 480-269-2733 or visit Harris in Room 255.
– Elijah McKay is a junior at Red Mountain High School in Mesa.