School resource officers: Have roles changed over the years? Submitted: 02/22/2018
Story By Allie Herrera

School resource officers: Have roles changed over the years?
NORTHWOODS - Detective Mark Heckendorf wears one uniform, but wears many hats. 

"[I'm] sometimes a teacher, a counselor, a mentor, [and] a friend [and] sometimes a pseudo-parent," said Heckendorf who works for the Merrill Police Department. 

For the last 12 years, Heckendorf has worked as the Merrill High School and Prairie River Middle School resource officer. 

He says his role hasn't changed much over the years. How he goes about his job has changed, in large part because of school violence. 
"If you hear something you can't just write it off as 'that's just kids being kids.' You have to look into everything and treat it seriously until you can prove that it's not," said Heckendorf. 

Just last week, a former student killed seventeen people in a Florida high school. It happened far from the Northwoods, but wasn't far from Heckendorf's mind. 

Sergeant Greg Gardner also thinks about these tragedies hitting close to home.
"I thought of people here in my own school who I might think are like this," said Gardner who works for the Oneida County Sheriff's Office.
Gardner started his job as Rhinelander High School's resource officer a little more than a year ago. He says parents often contact him if their child may be having a bad day.

"It's not always a particular threat of violence that comes. It's just sometimes that they're just not right that day," said Gardner. 

Gardner says he spends most of the day focusing on building safety, looking into criminal matters, and dealing with behavioral issues. 

In his opinion, the role of a resource officer has changed over the years. 

"I don't remember students acting similar ways that I see them acting now," said Gardner. 

Both Heckendorf and Gardner said they wish they could spend more time in the halls getting to know students. They say the job sometimes takes them out of those hall, especially when they have to focus so much on keeping the school safe and handling behavioral situations that involve students.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

LAND O' LAKES - People passing by Land O'Lakes over the last year may notice some changes in town. Namely, the new businesses starting up.

Members of the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation (VCEDC) and Land O' Lakes Chamber of Commerce say there isn't any one particular reason for the recent business boom in Land O' Lakes. But rather that the community as a whole working together and preparing for these opportunities is what's paying off. 

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Sixth grader Marcus Anderson enjoys class projects. He also likes drawing, playing outside, and hanging with his dog. But there's one other thing he likes the most.

"Helping out classmates," Anderson said.

Anderson's teachers at James Williams Middle School in Rhinelander said he's a helpful student.

So helpful, they nominated him for a special contest called 95.5 Hero of the Week.

H&R Block and WIFC radio in Wausau run the contest. They select a nominated student as their Hero of the Week and the student is then recognized and given a trophy.

+ Read More

Play Video

PLOVER - Last February, the condition of a pit bull named Darcy helped force a dog kennel seizure by Oneida County Sheriff's deputies, an arrest of their owner, and the stripping of her dog license.

A Rhinelander veterinarian found Darcy was the victim of severe neglect at It Matters to One Animal Rescue in Sugar Camp, and soon after, 38 other dogs were taken from the property.

It took Darcy a year to find a new home while staying at the humane society. But now, Darcy is living happily in Portage County.

"She needs to live a quiet, retired, peaceful life," said Darcy's new owner, Vanessa DeWalt.

+ Read More

MADISON - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker plans to offer paper-products giant Kimberly-Clark Corp. a deal worth $25 million to keep a plant open and save nearly 400 jobs.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Thursday that the deal will be done using powers Walker currently has but that would be taken away under a bill Republicans passed in a lame-duck session last week. Walker has yet to take action on the bill.

+ Read More

RICHMOND, IN - A police chief says a teenage suspect and officers fired gunshots at each other at an eastern Indiana middle school before the youth killed himself.

Richmond Police Chief Jim Branum tells the Palladium-Item that police and school officials were alerted Thursday morning that an armed person was heading to Dennis Intermediate School with the intention of hurting people.

+ Read More

WASHINGTON - Governor Scott Walker's replacement, Tony Evers, went to Washington today to meet with President Trump. The White House hosted a large group of incoming governors.

President Trump was joined by cabinet officers and member of his administration during the meeting.

+ Read More

HAYWARD - A former priest accused of sexually abusing at least three boys in Wisconsin decades ago has been bound over for trial.

Seventy-one-year-old Thomas Ericksen was arrested Nov. 16 at his Minneapolis home. He faces child sexual assault charges for alleged abuse between June 1982 and April 1983, while he was at St. Peter's Church in Winter, Wisconsin.

+ Read More
+ More General News

Click Here