Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

New SRO wants kids to feel safe

August 17, 2006

When students walk through the door at De Soto High School this week, one of the first faces they'll see this year is Deputy Eddie Blake.

Blake, a 10-year veteran of the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, is taking Dave Wisenhunt's place as school resource officer for De Soto High School, Lexington Trails Middle School and Starside Elementary School.

"I'm kind of excited and nervous," he said. "I'm excited about meeting all the students and being a mentor and teacher, but also a friend -- somebody they feel comfortable talking to."

Blake said he doesn't have a set schedule of when he'll be at each school, but will work during school functions and games, also.

"I'm eager to learn a new position," he said. "It's just a good op(portunity) for me to jump in with both feet. Everyone I've talked to so far has been really helpful to me."

Blake, who grew up in southern Missouri, now lives in Olathe with his wife, Jennifer, and two young children. The family is also expecting a third child soon. Blake began at the sheriff's office in the detention unit. He also worked with inmate transfers, the court services division and on the patrol unit. He's currently assigned to the motorcycle unit and has been on the Sheriff's S.W.A.T. team.

As a school resource officer, Blake will be employed for both the Sheriff's office and De Soto USD 232. He'll work to promote safety and even teach a few classes on preventing drug and alcohol abuse. Blake will collaborate with counselors and probation officers for students on probation or diversion programs. He'll also make himself available for parents with any safety concerns.

One concern, Blake said, was the use of Internet blog sites for teenagers. Students often use sites to communicate with each other, but law enforcement in Johnson County has also found criminals and sexual predators on these sites, pretending to be teenagers.

"The number one controller is parents allowing students to have access to those sites, but I'll be looking into it also," he said. "Students put a lot of personal information on it, thinking it's just going to be parents and friends looking at their site, but it's not."

This year, the Johnson County Sheriff's Office began an Internet safety division, which has a full-time officer making sure online sexual predators are kept in check.

Blake said he had an office at De Soto High School and was available to any parents or patrons with safety concerns regarding the schools.

"My primary existence here is to make it a safe learning place," he said. "They come here and don't have to worry about outside or inside threats, being bullied or drugs. They can just come here to learn."

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