A Lawrence police officer is looking forward to his new assignment.
A 35-year-old Lawrence police officer now is on duty about 20 hours a week at Lawrence High School.
But Mike Barrow isn't providing added security at the high school. He's more interested in talking with students informally and teaching students about criminal justice and law enforcement.
Barrow spent about three hours on the job Wednesday at LHS in his new role as school resources officer. And he was pleased with the reception he received.
He said he thinks he can be an influence with all types of students.
"I can relate to a lot of the difficult things the kids are going through," he said.
Barrow, who's been with the police department for two years, was chosen Tuesday from among five applicants to be the resources officer at LHS. Before joining the Lawrence department, Barrow, a native of the San Francisco Bay area, spent six years working for the Wilson County Sheriff's Department and four years as a military police officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Barrow, who will carry a gun while at the school, will wear a combination of clothing: his patrol uniform, a suit or a more casual uniform that the department is developing for its training unit. He plans on keeping office hours, teaching in the classroom and attending extracurricular activities. And he'll even go to staff meetings.
"My goal is to be extremely flexible and be involved," he said.
Barrow's office is near the LHS security office. But Chief Ron Olin stressed that Barrow is not a security officer and his position is not designed to enforce school disciplinary policies.
"It's providing a resource for the staff and students and placing the officer in some nonconfrontational role," the chief said.
If a law is broken, however, Barrow will take action.
Olin said Barrow's job at Lawrence High School is a continuation of programs that already exist in elementary and junior high schools. At elementary schools, officers visit with students during lunch. Typically, Olin said, they're "mobbed."
And twice each year, officers present a two-week program on criminal justice and law enforcement in each junior high school.
If the police department budget allows and if the LHS resources office program is successful, Olin said, the program will be duplicated at Free State High School, which will open in fall 1997.
"We are not in a position to put officers into the junior highs anymore than we already are," Olin said.
Dick Patterson, LHS assistant principal, said he's eager for students to take advantage of Barrow's presence.
"In today's society, there's a lot of misconceptions about police officers and their role," Patterson said. "To have one on campus, to walk among students, to remove false perceptions and maybe lower some tensions in certain students, it's a good move. We're excited about it."