It’s their job: School resource officer provides mediation, counseling, services

Portales Police Master Patrol Officer John Mondragon is serving as the school resource officer this year at Portales High School and Portales Junior High School.

He has worked with the Portales Police Department since 2001, and has 21 years law enforcement experience.

What does your job consist of?

I’m a liaison between the schools and police department. I participate in mediation, counseling, assisting the faculty and staff where needed and also investigate any criminal activity that may have occurred on school grounds. I do give classes (on effects of drug abuse, traffic laws and dangers of drunk driving.) I provide security for school functions such as dances.

Why is your position important?

It’s important in today’s age, especially with school violence. And it gives the officer an opportunity to interact with the students at the high school and junior high, so they have a face. I believe it’s very important for the young students to know not just the uniform but the person behind the uniform, behind the badge. And it’s for us to get to know the kids, too.

What’s a typical day for you?

It depends on which school is on the rotation. I’ll come in and check with the secretaries, the principals and see if there’s anything they need, any mediation going on that day, any counseling going on that day, if they want me to attend any type of meetings.

If my day’s free, I don’t like to stay in the office. I’ll get out and about and go visit classrooms. I’ll check the campus area or visit the hallways.

Usually during their lunch break at the junior high, I’ll have lunch with them. And then after lunch on their lunch break, I’ll be out there with them until it’s time to go back in for class. And then towards the end of the school day, I make sure I monitor the school zones and the traffic, just making sure it’s a safe environment as they leave school, side by side with the teachers.

Same thing at the high school, except at lunchtime I monitor traffic.

Did you need any particular training?

There is a school resource officer program you can go to, but the fact that we rotate every year — it’s pretty hard for us to get to that training. But officers are selected based on their years of service, their maturity.

I do have a degree in sociology and psychology.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Talking to the students, both at the junior high and high school.

Is their any advice you would give to parents and students?

To the parents, I would say that it starts at home, and if you have a positive home life, they’re going to be positive in life.

And to the students, I’d say, “Plan your life. It may change, but at least you have a plan, somewhere to start.”

—Compiled by PNT Senior Writer Argen Duncan.