District News

 

Meet new School Resource Officer Frank McPherson

Posted on: February 10, 2017

Officer McPherson brings a wealth of experience and wisdom to his new role as Finneytown's School Resource Officer. Learn more about him in this Q&A.

 

Frank McPherson was about eight years old when he decided he wanted to be a police officer. He remembers the day. He watched two officers arrest a man who had been abusive to his wife or girlfriend. “I remember thinking how good that was for her that he was being removed from their home.” he says. “I understood that sense of relief for the victim.”

Tell us about your experience in law enforcement.

FM: I was a school resource officer at Mt. Healthy Schools for the last year. I’ve been a Springfield Township Police officer for four years and, before that, was with the city of Springdale for seven years.

When did you decide you wanted to be a school resource officer?

Typically, officers are interested in that position later in their careers, mostly because they want a “normal” schedule. However, I was approached when Mt. Healthy’s SRO stepped down and asked if I would be interested in filling the spot temporarily. Over the course of just a few months I became interested in what the significance of the SRO role was. Ultimately, I attended training to become certified as an SRO and accepted the position here at Finneytown. If you’re going to have the SRO position, it has to be done correctly.

What qualities should a school resource officer possess?

You have to be someone who is well-rounded with people. As a child I lived in a lot of different types of neighborhoods, which made it easier for me to get acquainted with people from all types of background. I had been in five grade schools by the time I was in fifth grade, which also helped to develop my ability to relate to different types of people.

The job itself is about having an open mind and understanding that arresting someone is not always the first option. In fact, the SRO position is more of a counseling or mentoring position.

One of the most important parts of the training is understanding the impulse with which kids act and respond to their environments. A lot of times students just want to be heard and want to know that their opinion matters.

Throughout my career, I’ve had several opportunities to be involved in other facets of law enforcement. I’ve been a field training officer, a property-room manager, a narcotics detective, and now an SRO, along with time as a patrol officer.

What’s your impression of Finneytown students?

Coming here from Mt. Healthy has been a fantastic transition. The kids overall are very respectful, and the interaction between teachers and students is excellent. (Former SRO) Rami Khayo did a great job of interacting with the kids and being ingrained in the Finneytown family.  He was a great predecessor and left me with a great map of how to do this job at this school.

Personally, my goal is to get in front of kids more in a classroom setting. An example of how I did this at Mt. Healthy was that I spoke to students in an open forum about how officers function throughout their day, how an officer prepares for his or her shift, and how they prepare for what the day might bring. It was an opportunity for the students to see me as a person and not a uniform.

A goal this first year is going to be tearing down the walls this uniform can sometimes build between officers and students.

Talk about the training a police officer receives.

Our job is people. We need to know a little sociology, psychology, basic government, and basic communication skills, in addition to what we learned at the police academy. Because of the nature of our day-to-day tasks -- responding from call to call -- an officer has to be able to “brush things off.” This ability may give the impression that we don’t care, which isn’t the case. We have to be able to clearly view every call for service with an open mind. Holding onto previous incidents can disrupt that process.

SROs are different from other positions within law enforcment in the sense that SROs are not looking for the arrest of a person as much as we are looking to counsel that individual. Anyone who works in public service is typically wired differently that the general public. As a public service worker you don’t have the ability to drive by someone in need. It's part of who you are. 

Public service is in every facet of my life. My wife, who is a firefighter and is also deeply rooted in public service, and I had an opportunity to work a crash scene together in which we collectively performed CPR on a cardiac arrest patient, ultimately stabilizing him and prolonging his life.

Do you have a particular goal as an officer?

Fairness is the goal. You want everything to be fair. You want trials to be fair. You want things to be viewed without prejudice. If that’s something I can achieve while I wear the uniform, I would be happy.

Have you had a “best moment” as a school resource officer?

I’ve had one incident where we recovered a firearm from a student’s locker. Although nobody was hurt, we know that we may have prevented something serious from happening, which is a great feeling.

Is there anything you’d like to share with parents?

Tell your kids to be honest. If they know something, they should tell somebody. We’re part of a family here and you have a responsibility to yourself and your peers to help maintain the safest and most enjoyable environment you can. You may save your own life.