MARANA, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) – A lot of people assume there's trouble when they see a police car at a school. At some local schools, it's a sign of police working to head off trouble before it starts.
A state grant program is bringing police officers back to some schools full time.
They're called School Resource Officers, or SRO's. Tight budgets pulled SRO's out of most schools several years ago.
Now Marana Police and Marana Schools are among the first to get the officers back into schools to build better bridges to students and head off trouble before it happens.
In six years as a Marana Police officer Melissa Larkin went to Marana Schools about a hundred times to deal with trouble and she often thought if she'd just had a chance to have a friendly talk with that student ....
"To say, you are going down the wrong path and catch it before they have to be talking to me in a law enforcement capacity."
Now she has her chance: a full time assignment at Marana Middle School as a school resource officer. Marana Middle and Marana High won grants to bring SRO's back to the schools after tight budgets closed down School Resource Officer programs about six years ago.
“Some of the things I will be talking about are drugs, alcohol, bullying, things that are against the law."
And she'll be open for those quiet, private conversations to keep students out of trouble, or so students can give her a tip trouble may be about to break out---even off campus.
KGUN 9 Reporter Craig Smith asked Marana Middle School 8th Grader Jose Sanchez: “You guys know a lot, right?”
Jose Sanchez: “ A bunch of stuff goes on sometimes and teachers don't really know about it and then like, it'll be good to have a SRO because some people don't feel secure and can tell the officer."
Students like Sophia Rodriguez say they want a safe, peaceful campus and welcome Officer Larkin as way to achieve that.
"If I ever have a concern about maybe something that happens inside a school or even outside of school I'll feel I have somebody there that I can go and talk to about that."
Tucson Police will have School Resource officers in several schools in the coming weeks. They are
Amphi schools secured a grant to pay for a TPD officer to serve as a resource officer in Amphi High School.
TPD officers will serve in eight TUSD schools. They are: Pueblo Magnet High School, Palo Verde High Magnet School, Santa Rita High School, Utterback Magnet Middle School, Booth-Fickett K-8 School, Cholla High Magnet School, Catalina Magnet High School, and Tucson High Magnet School.