KPD School Resource Officer continues to provide emergency and mediation support to KCSD

“Given the unfortunate events of the school shooting in Perry [Iowa], it has put school violence on the forefront in our community,” Chief Zeth Baum, Keokuk Police Department, said. Since 2004 the Keokuk Police Department has partnered with the Keokuk Community School District to provide a Student Resource Officer (SRO) in the schools to provide an immediate response to emergencies, but also to “foster an environment where students feel comfortable seeking guidance, support, and mentorship.” 

The current SRO, Officer Allyson Dade, also works with the administration on conflict resolution through de-escalation and other means, and her presence acts as a deterrent to criminal behavior.

“I look at myself as that safety net, if there was an active violence incident, I am right there, not five minutes away,” Dade said. KPD knows if Dade calls out for help, they respond immediately. She also continues to update safety plans based on interactions with the administration. “My safety plans include constantly thinking about ‘what if this were to happen’ and considering solutions.” 

KPD said the SRO has improved the relationship between the police and the youth in the community through counseling, mediation and referrals to professional services for drug rehabilitation, medical assistance, physiological needs, child abuse services and family counseling.

“Officer Dade plays a vital role in building positive relationships with students, staff, and the broader school community, including parents,” Baum said. “By regularly engaging with students of all ages, the SRO develops a sense of trust, mutual respect and a rapport.”

Dade also monitors the secure entrance at KHS where students enter and she makes trips daily to the other school locations. Additionally, her duties include school traffic checks during drop offs and pickups, especially where the buses are unloading and loading, as well as interacting with the students during passing times and lunch at KHS. The SRO also handles any calls for service that need law enforcement interaction within the school district and helps the school faculty resolve issues that are not necessarily criminal matters, such as disorderly behaviors and mistreatment of other students or staff, before it could become a criminal incident. 

Dade stresses the importance of building a positive rapport with students, especially those that have had struggled while at school in the past, when students that she deals with make improvements, such as improving grades, or avoiding being sent to in school suspension, she has treats in her office that they earn. Dade enjoys her position in the schools and said “there are students that say hi to me every time they see me and stop to talk.” 

Another benefit to having an SRO full-time in the district, is that Dade continues to educate students and staff on law enforcement concerns, such as crime trends, safety threats, community news and the juvenile justice system.

“When my own kid goes to school, I want her to have a safe environment and have a safe place to go,” Dade said. “The last thing someone wants is to send their kids to a school that doesn’t have a safety plan.”

In the 20 years since the partnership began, there have only been four different officers in the position, which has provided consistency for the students and community members, and made it easier to work with school administrators to maintain a safe environment for all students and staff. The first SRO in the district was now retired Keokuk Police Captain Broc Galbreath.