Brookfield Police Cpl. Ron Mann admitted he had a problem when he started as school resource officer, assigned to work full time at Brookfield schools, when school is in session.
“I’m used to going out, running call to call to call,” he said on Nov. 18, his first day as SRO. “Now, it’s more laid back for me to where I can actually spend more time with one person. I can take my time, I can deal with the people and I can help resolve more of their problems in a slower manner instead of trying to be hurry up, hurry up. Now, it’s a slower pace. That’s my problem. I gotta get used to a slower pace. I’m used to a fast pace. For 28 years, I been on the road.”
Make no mistake, though: finding a way to slow down is worth the effort, he said.
“I’m really happy,” he said.
Mann’s assignment to the school was made possible by the state creating a new, temporary program that allocated money to Brookfield schools for “student wellness and success,” and the district’s willingness to use a portion of that allocation to pay for a resource officer’s salary and benefits, $34,457 for the remainder of this school year.
“This is long overdue,” Mann said. “I mean, loooong overdue.”
promoPolice Chief Dan Faustino said the department will be responsible for expenses over and above salary and benefits, such as getting Mann a computer that he can use at the school and tie into the department’s records program and data base.
Mann has been the police department’s liaison to the school for a number of years, but the school has been a priority for him throughout his career, he said, and he has tried to eat lunch at the school every day he works.
“Even before this school was built, and we had all the old schools, I would go to every school and do the same thing I’m doing right now – go in, talk to the kids, talk to the teachers and the staff,” Mann said. “I’ve been doing it my whole career. To me, it’s not really a change. It’s just now I’m here eight hours a day to do it. Thank God I’m a talker.”
That bit about being a talker gets to his philosophy in dealing with the students. He tries to be friendly, laid back, a little goofy. He strives to be fair and wants to avoid arresting students when an arrest-level offense has been committed, when that is at all possible.
“I would rather talk to them, work out their problem,” Mann said. “Sometimes, arrests ain’t gonna do them no good. If you can get them into counseling or something like that, that’d be great for the kid. I’ve sent a lot of kids for counseling, and a lot of them thank me because I helped them out.”
Addressing his top goals, he said: “I just want to make sure that the school is safe at all times. If that means going from door to door, make sure they’re all locked and everything. Just making sure the kids understand that they know they can come to me if they have issues. I’ve been telling them for years and years and years: If you ever need anything, you come see me, and I’ll help you work out whatever problem you have. I can’t guarantee I’ll fix your problem, but at least I can direct you in the right path of what you need to do in order to fix your problem.”
Mann will appear in classrooms to talk to students about issues such as proper texting and the hazards of vaping. As he gets time in his office at the middle school, he’ll learn the school’s emergency and safety plans.
“The police has one plan,” he said. “The school has one plan. You can’t combine them, but you gotta know both of them. What’s the school gonna do? What’s the police gonna do?”
He also will research funding sources so that the program can continue. The school and police department have only committed to having a resource officer through June 12, although both sides have said they would like for it to continue.
“I don’t want this to be a six-month thing and it goes away,” said Mann, who will retire sometime in 2020. “Every school in Trumbull County has resource officers.”