Officer Mark Parker works with his canine, which he often takes into school with him.
Police officer Mark Parker works full-time for the Beech Grove school system offering safety, conflict resolution, mentoring and counseling for students
By Nicole Davis
From police officer to basketball coach, Mark Parker said his relationship and loyalty with the Beech Grove School Corporation has lasted long after his graduation from its high school. Serving full-time as a police officer, school resource officer, since August, Parker has not only worked to keep the students safe; he also serves as mentor and counselor at each school within the system. The theory – stop the students from getting into a bad situation before it happens.
“I just saw it as an opportunity for me as a police officer, for these kids to see a police officer on a daily basis,” Parker said. “I can soften that image, not to the point where they don’t respect me, but so they can talk to me. It’s a big help to get to know these kids on a first-name basis.”
Parker said student’s safety has always been a growing concern for parents. His presence reassures them of the measures the school is taking to keep the youth in a safe environment. He made 20 arrests during the fall semester, mostly for fighting, but Parker said his job is mainly to act as a counselor, speaking with students about their problems and assisting with conflict resolution. He said he is at the high school most of his shift. By being proactive, he said he hopes he can solve a problem before the student can take an action that gets them in trouble.
“An officer coming in uniform I thing gets the point across better,” Parker said.
Paul Kaiser, superintendent, said that the schools have partnered with the city for many years to provide a police officer on campus. They did not have the position for two years because of the budget. Parker said this is the first full-time position of this kind at the school.
“Mark has been a great addition as a full-time staff member,” Kaiser said. “He is more like a counselor to a police officer as he works one-to-one with students. He is a great role model in his position as a liaison officer and our girls’ basketball Junior Varsity Coach.”
Parker has worked as a law enforcement officer for 20 years, between Beech Grove and the city of Franklin. He has worked in the Canine Unit for 11 years and takes his dog, Wyatt, to school with him. Wyatt was used 28 times last year to sniff out lockers, classrooms and cars for drug paraphernalia. Nothing was found. The canine also visits with the younger children when Parker speaks with them in their classrooms.
Parker has lectured within the schools on topics such as alcohol laws, fire arms safety and social media safety. He said he hopes to continue building upon his relationships with the children this coming semester by getting into the classroom more often.
“You don’t want to wait for something to happen to need me over here,” Parker said. “Our biggest concern is the safety of the kids. These kids have a safe-learning environment. It can keep you awake at night, thinking of what you can do better.”
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