In a normal year, the Hinckley-Finlayson School Resource Officer has a presence at after school sports and events such as dances as well as in the school.
Investigator Adam Kenow, 32, began as a part time SRO three years ago. He has not worked an entire school year to date, due to the unusual pandemic year.
He also works part time as an investigator and team leader for the Pine County Special Weapons And Tactic team. When school is out for summer, or in distance learning, Kenow works full time for the sheriff’s office.
“It’s been a good experience,” Kenow said. “It’s a different scene and takes some of the stress off. I can make a difference as the kids become teenagers.”
The first SRO was hired about 11 years ago as a preventative measure for non-custodial parent issues, said Robert Prater, H-F superintendent. He said the other reason is to have an experienced person to handle situations of major violence in the slim possibility such as a school intruder.
“We really watch out for parents without legal custody that wish to take their children out of school and the Sheriffs Office presence is a huge deterrent for that type of issue.”
He said the most common concern with students is tobacco, alcohol and marijuana.
Kenow said he rarely sees serious concerns such as an assault, which includes a physical altercation or fight between students. The most common issue with students is nicotine or vaping.
Kenow visits the student with school staff to discuss what the potential consequence could be if the student continues with the undesirable behavior, such as vaping on school grounds.
If the student is a repeat offender, the issue could cross into a criminal offence.
“We would rather resolve it as a behavioral issue instead of get the student involved with the law,” Kenow said.
He said he only visits the elementary school if he is called by school staff. He said it’s usually due to a child acting out because of family issues.
Kenow educates the older elementary students about cyber dangers, including phone apps, chat rooms and websites. He is also willing to educate parents. Parents are encouraged to call the school and set up an appointment to talk to Kenow about any concerns they may have about the student.
He also welcomes students to stop by his office to talk about any concerns from bullying, family issues or just to chat.
“The door is always open,” Kenow said.