By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — MEDINA — A grant-funded partnership between the Medina Police Department and the Medina Central School District has provided a degree of security and relationships that will benefit the community, school and police officials agree.
Student Resource Officer Chad Kenward, a patrolman with the MPD, is stationed inside of the high school for the 2012-13 school year. He fills a disciplinary role while serving to develop positive relationships with students through his presence and activities like floor hockey games before school.
Kenward said he can feel students getting comfortable with his presence, especially in the early-morning clattering in front of the goal.
”It’s a physical game, but at first the students we’re hesitant to bump into me,” Kenward said. “Those barriers are breaking down.
Medina Police Chief Jose Avila welcomed the idea of having an officer in school when the school proposed bringing one of the department’s ten officers in-house after Medina applied a $50,000 legislative grant from State Sen. George Maziarz towards renewing the program — Superintendent Jeff Evoy said the district is pursing funding avenues to continue the program in future years.
“The students get to see the police in a positive way, it’s an investment in the future,” Avila said. “It makes me feel that the kids are a lot safer.”
Kenward responds to issues like truancy, bullying and drug abuse while also giving talks to classes and acting as a preventative force.
”The kids can come in to talk about anything from bullying to problems at home,” said Kenward, whose three children are students across the campus at Wise Middle School and Oak Orchard Elementary School. “With my own children in the district, I want it to be safe.”
The relationship with the school and the village police is not a new one. Kenward returned to a position that he held for four years under a separate grant program.
”I enjoyed it the last time, I like being in the classroom,” said Kenward, who recalled the beneficial relationships that developed from his last stint in the school. “This program is set up so that we can create a better relationship between the police and the future of our communities.”
Kenward said he was happy to retake the position, although there have been changes since his last go-around as the student resource officer.
”I see a lot of technology being used, that’s a new realm for law enforcement,” Kenward said, noting the difference in communication with students. “Kids have become very sociable, but not in the face-to-face way ... they hide behind texting and emails.”
High School Principal Mark Kruzynski and Assistant Principal Michael Cavanaugh said Kenward’s presence has already been felt in the first three months of class.
”There’s a different tone,” Kruzynski said as students poured into the main hallway at the start of school Tuesday.
“He’s an active part of student discipline and provides a sense of security,” Cavanaugh said. “A great resource to solve problems.”
And a necessary one in what has stacked up to be a chaotic year for schools. Medina High School welcomed in two grades of new students this fall while adjusting to both the APPR — which requires more evaluation time for administrators — and the Dignity for All Students Act, the state’s anti-bullying policies.
”Our goal is to get everyone in school and ready to learn,” Kruzynski said. “All three of us (Kruzynski, Cavanaugh and Kenward) are working together. our job is to teach kids to make smarter decisions. I’m very glad he’s back.”
While the posting has shortened the available manpower for the police department’s day shift, Avila said he’s confident the investment made by the school will pay off in the long run due to Kenward’s work.
”He’s an excellent police officer,” Avila said. “I couldn’t ask for a better representative of our department to be at the school.”Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.