Upholding school safety: New resource officer looks forward to building relationships

Published 4:11 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023

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Mother and wife. Teacher and parent. Teacher and student. Many people fill multiple roles at the same time. David Huse — currently a patrol officer with the Albert Lea Police Department — is getting ready to add another responsibility in his life: School resource officer at Southwest Middle School.

“A school resource officer, essentially they kind of help bridge the gap between law enforcement and the school,” he said. “Upholding school safety, making sure employees [and] school staff are safe, students are safe.”

He’ll also be tasked with mentoring and coaching students to build up relationships with them, serving as a positive role model, monitoring the halls and working with the school to ensure a safe school.

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“I know we’ve had a lot of issues around the nation with active threats, and just having the school resource officer being there can deter a lot of that,” he said. “We just want our kids in the community to feel safe.”

And he’ll interact with students and staff.

“I’d like to have a relationship with staff and students, and if they’re having an issue that they can come to me [to] discuss it with, formulate a plan on how to overcome whatever situation or incident they have and give them guidelines,” he said.

To be clear, SROs are not traditional police officers either.

“As a normal patrol officer you respond to calls all over your jurisdiction, your area, enforcing city ordinances, just maintaining law and order in that way,” he said. “When you’re working at the school, your jurisdiction is essentially the school.”

That means he’ll be responsible for dealing with situations that could arise at the school. He may also be asked to help out Adam Conn, the current school resource officer at Albert Lea High School. That could include filling in if he’s sick or helping with football games or other large events where a greater law enforcement presence is needed.

One of his first observations when touring the middle school was student reactions to having two officers.

“They thought something might be going on,” he said. “I just want students to know that yeah, there’s going to be a uniformed officer there, but I want to be friends with people. I want to get to know them, hang out with them.”

He also wasn’t there to simply spy on people.

In speaking with teachers and administrators, he said everyone was positive and excited to have a new school resource officer.

This will be his first time ever serving in the position, though he has served in law enforcement since 2014.

“I volunteered for it,” he said. “There’s an interview process and a testing process for it that went along with it.”

Huse sees the position as an opportunity to interact with the community, parents, teachers, staff and individuals and hopefully project a positive image. He also noted younger individuals without experience seeing police interaction as a bad outlook.

Huse, who starts the same day school starts, will return to his current role following the end of the school year.

Ron Wagner, superintendent of Albert Lea Area Schools, said the district was excited to continue its partnership with the city as they looked to support schools.

“This partnership is something that will continue to grow, and [we] really appreciate the city’s support,” he said.

In an email, J.D. Carlson, director of public safety, was confident in Huse’ abilities.

“SRO David Huse will continue to best utilize his strong interpersonal skills to foster relationships with students, families and the district’s team,” he said. “David has a keen ability to develop rapport with others, in a down-to-earth and authentic way.”

Huse echoed a similar sentiment.

“I’m excited to start — to start making friends and start building relationships with people,” he said.

In his free time, Huse enjoys spending time on his farm in Mower County, where there are chickens and ducks. He also owns a beagle and a coonhound.