Lapeer school resource officer more than just armed protection

School Resource Officer AJ Wetzel says its about more than just armed protection, SRO's also have to build relationships.

Armed school resource officers have been a big topic of conversation in recent weeks.

The Lapeer Community Schools district has two of them on campus. NBC25/FOX66's Jasmyn Durham learned more about what they do on a daily basis to try and keep the schools safe.

"I know that he's armed and he's a safe person to be around, very trustworthy," says student Max Decou.

Officer AJ Wetzel is one of two school resource officers in Lapeer. He's worked with the high school since 2016 not only keeping the building safe but making sure the students feel comfortable.

"He is genuinely here for the safety of our students, he's always looking out for us, he knows when there's a problem and he fixes the problem when there is immediately," says student Delacie Johnson.

Wetzel says coming into the position he wanted to make sure students saw him as more than an armed robot but as a positive image of law enforcement.

"I build relationships with them. I go in their classrooms, i teach them about suicide prevention about drugs things like that," says Officer Wetzel.

Those strong relationships help build a stronger school community.

"I go to him with my issues if I'm having any especially with my family or friends," says student Max Decou.

"They know that I'm here to protect them and when you have that relationship with the kids if they see something those are just 1400 eyes and ears out there protecting you as well so you work as a team to create that environment," says Wetzel.

And Lapeer Community Schools Superintendent Matt Wandrie says creating that environment serves as another layer of protection.

"It is a really important aspect of any school securities protocol because they prevent so much more than we will ever know about. As kids develop a relationship with them and feel comfortable in speaking with them proactively they can then engage individual and groups of students about preventing larger scale issues," says Wandrie.

Superintendent Wandrie says the school resource program has worked so well for the district that they're looking into hiring a third officer.

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