The Alcona Community Schools resource officer has been on duty full-time since January and is feeling comfortable in the role of protecting students and staff.
Jason Dellar, a deputy with the Alcona County Sheriff’s Department, started the school year working in the schools part-time as the resource officer.
With additional funding provided by the school district and, under an agreement with the sheriff’s department, his hours were increased to be able to spend more time in the schools.
Dellar, who graduated from Alcona High School almost a decade ago, said his age helps make him a little more relatable to students, something akin to being more like a big brother, someone they can go and talk to rather than an off-site deputy from the Alcona County Sheriff’s Department.
However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t a law enforcement officer around school grounds. Luckily, Dellar explained, enforcement issues don’t happen very often, but he is there, on-hand should an issue arise.
Dellar takes his job seriously and said each day begins with securing the grounds, checking all entry doors to make sure they are locked after students arrive. The rest of his day is spent making sure students are where they are supposed to be, checking on truancy cases and helping teachers by escorting students with behavior issues to either a problem-solving room (PSR) or the principal’s office, whichever the teacher believes would be the most beneficial.
“The PSR room gives the student a break from where the issue was happening. They can work on their homework there and it gives them some time away to cool down a bit, but if the teacher wants the student to talk to the principal, that’s where I make sure they go,” Dellar said.
He doesn’t have much time to sit down on the job. Typically, he spends his day walking the school hallways or assisting at lunchtime by watching the cafeteria or gymnasium, where students can burn off a little energy after eating lunch.
“I interact with the students every day. I’m always around, walking the hallways. Making sure the students are not skipping class,” Dellar said.
During middle school gym classes, when there is a high number of students in the gym at one time, Dellar often assists as an extra set of eyes helping to make sure everyone stays safe.
He feels things have changed a lot between what students were like when he attended the school and how they are now. “There are a lot more behavior issues now. I’m not sure how to get that stopped. That’s something for all of us to work on,” Dellar said.
He feels the most difficult issue happening at the school is vaping. “Vaping is bad at all schools, not just here. Students don’t need identification to buy vapes, they can buy it online and have it shipped to their door. The labeling on these vapes may say there is no nicotine in it, but often they do contain nicotine. They can also be filled with THC which is the hallucinogenic from marijuana,” Dellar said.
He explained how vapes run off a battery which can explode when being smoked. Another issue is the dangerous chemicals in it which are questionable. The product can cause something called popcorn lung which can cause serious health problems.
“Vapes are very easy to hide. They can look like a regular pen or a (USB computer) flash drive,” Dellar said. He explained the school district had Mike Maturen in to speak to teachers and staff about the danger of vapes and gave them some assistance in what too look for.
Dellar said the school had one bomb threat last fall while he was working part-time, but the matter was quickly and efficiently acted upon with no incident.
He is happy with his position at the school and said the students and staff, for the most part, are very accepting of his presence. “The kids seem to like (that) I’m here. They want to talk to me every day. I think they like that I’m younger. I’m easy for them to talk to,” Dellar said.
Last week, while students were on spring break, Dellar spent the week in Flint, Mich. for school resource officer training. He was looking forward to the training and hoped it would give him some additional tools and ideas in dealing with students.
Dellar has been a deputy with the Alcona County Sheriff’s Department since 2017 and said it was the only thing he ever wanted to do. He has been working as the school resource officer for about a year.
According to superintendent Dan O’Connor, adding a full-time resource officer back to the district was a welcome addition for all stakeholders, “Jason goes above and beyond to work with students and staff to ensure we have a safe campus along with fostering positive relationships with all who come in contact with him. We are lucky to have Jason integrated as part of our district,” O’Connor said.