COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -Coeur d’Alene Police Officer Tom Sparks walks almost the same, identical route everyday through the halls of Woodland Middle School.
He’s not just an armed officer; he’s the school resource officer, someone that kids look up to.
“You’re modeling behavior and the generations they change over time, but kids are generally kids, and if they are lacking a model or a mentor,” Sparks said, “they are looking for people who will be that for them whether they know it or not."
He’s not just a peacekeeper, but an actual peacemaker.
Sparks spends some days teaching character education at Woodland.
“It deals a lot with how we control ourselves, it makes us feel safe when somebody wields power but it's in a controlled way,” Sparks said.
Sparks is one of eight armed school resource officers that walk the halls.
Three officers are stationed at all three high schools as well as the three middle schools in Coeur d’Alene.
One officer and one Kootenai County deputy handle the elementary schools in the district.
“That is absolutely unprecedented, I am not aware of a department that spends more resources on school resource officers in the state or even in the nation to the best of my knowledge,” Sparks said.
For Sparks, it’s gratifying knowing he has the students trust in the event something were to happen at the school.
“They feel comfortable with me, interacting with these kids in a comfortable way. They open their ears to what I have to say because they are comfortable with me,” he said.
The school district and the police department say they are even considering adding another resource officer; making a total of nine-school resource officers.
But those talks are preliminary.
Coeur d’Alene’s school resource officer program is funded through levy’s that are voted on by citizens every two years.
The next levy election will happen in March 2019.