The Amherst Police Department currently has two officers assigned to the position of School Resource Officer (SRO) within the Amherst and Souhegan Cooperative school districts. Senior Patrolman Michael Knox is assigned to the Amherst Middle School, and Patrolman Heather Blase is assigned to the Souhegan High School. Both officers are assigned to the position of SRO on a full-time basis during the academic school year.
The SRO’s are valued assets in their schools, and have established vital relationships with staff, students, and parents which allow them to provide the best services possible. The focus of modern police agencies is on community policing; the building of true partnerships with the community wherein police and citizens communicate and work together to solve problems. There is no better example of true community policing in our town than that provided by the placement of police officers in our school system.
Although there is no SRO assigned to the Clark or Wilkins Elementary School, the Amherst Police Department initiated a school check-in program at both schools beginning in 2013. At random times during the school day, uniformed officers stop in at each school and conduct a brief safety check. Not only is the officer visibility helpful from a safety standpoint, but students and staff have a daily opportunity to meet with an officer and discuss any concerns or questions that they might have. It also gives the students the opportunity to become familiar with police officers long before their arrival at the middle school. In addition to safety check-ins, officers also participate in book reading sessions with the younger students.
SRO Heather Blase, Souhegan High School
Captain Ciampoli reads to students at the Clark School