Juan Salazar sees wide role for school resource officer
Expects to be visible at all school campuses, town events
Juan Salazar may be the second school resource officer in Monett, but he is no stranger to people in Monett.
A 2007 graduate of the Police Academy, Salazar started working for the Neosho Police that year. A graduate of Monett High School, he wanted to come back to Monett, and did so once he got a job offer in 2011. Salazar serves in a number of capacities with the Monett department. He runs the Datamaster machine that provides information for DWI tests, serves as firearms instructor, is a member of the SWAT team and assists in the evidence room. He is the only Spanish speaking officer in the department, though several others have taken an immersion class in Spanish.
“I like kids,” Salazar said. “When this opportunity came up, I saw it as a chance to learn more. The way things are going on lately in the country, the safer we can keep kids, the more we can help them. I don’t want kids showing up to school and say they don’t feel safe. There’s inside threats too, like bullying, to address.”
Salazar said the presence of Jay Jastal as a school resource officer before him offers good guidance in taking on his new role. He viewed the SRO job as “a whole other animal” from doing patrol as he has for the past six years.
Salazar will have an office next to the principal’s at Monett Middle School. His duties will cover the intermediate and middle school campuses, but he will also present programs at other campuses, like Jastal has done.
“I want to be seen, and let the kids know I’m there for whatever they need, not to get kids in trouble,” Salazar said. “My goal is to be a mentor and role model.”
Salazar recently completed a week’s training to start his new job. Continuing training will be part of the job for the next two years, he added. Some of the instruction focused beyond issues with potential shooters.
“We had a discussion on what the teen brain is like,” Salazar said. They’re trying to find themselves, and deal with hormones at the same time. We talked about how social media is so big, especially in young person’s life. It changes a lot of things. I want to bring up more awareness of social media. I have my own kids, and a nephew who is three, who has an iPad and an iPod. I don’t think it’s too early to talk about social media. Some kids are more developed than others.
“I will be involved in every school. I’m sure Jay will put me in the McGruff suit at some point.”
While not a teacher, Salazar expects he will spend time in classrooms as a guest speaker on topics like texting, fire drills, inappropriate touching and CPR.
“My plan is to go to DARE school,” he said. “I’ve already attended a child development class. I did a week long interview class. I’d like to do something more advanced than that.”
Salazar noted that the point of having an office is for both students and parents to have access to him. He expects to be active in the community and visible at many functions. A weightlifter and fitness advocate, he plans to have “my name on the board” of weightlifters in local gyms, where eighth graders may see it.
“Exercise helps relieve stress,” Salazar said. “It’s pretty much my go-to to relax. I’d like to bring archery to the middle school from the high school, another way kids can relax.
For the past 10 months Salazar has been deployed in Central America as part of the Marine Corps Reserves, a job he has done for the past 14 years. He recognizes that as Hispanic, young people who might be reluctant to speak to other officers will feel they can approach him.
“I want to reach out to kids who may not go to the YMCA,” Salazar said. “This job is all a learning experience. If one thing doesn’t work, I’ll keep trying for something that does.”
Salazar can be reached at the Monett Police station or by email at email@example.com