By Paola Garcia, For The Miami Student
Oxford Police Officer Matt Wagers was appointed School Resource Officer at the Talawanda School District by Chief John Jones, effective February 1. Wagers has been with the Oxford Police Department (OPD) since 2011.
Wagers, who graduated from Hamilton High School and attended Northern Kentucky University, said that service runs in his family. He was influenced by his father, a retired Hamilton police officer, as well as his uncles, who were a detective and a firefighter, respectively.
Wagers’ task as the community outreach officer’s task at Talawanda Schools is not only to educate and do prevention work, but also to establish relationships and be approachable to students. The job requires an officer who wants to work with kids, is energetic and knows how to solve problems by building relationships. Jones explained that much of Wagers’ job involves social work. The only interaction many Talawanda students have ever had with law enforcement involves a police officer intervening in a domestic dispute. A school resource officer affords young people the chance for positive interaction with a police officer.
“It’s evident in Officer Wagers, that we chose the right person to do [the job],” Jones said. “He loves kids, and he gets down to their level and talks to them and tries to educate.”
Jones felt that a school resource officer for Talawanda Schools was necessary because the safety of the children in the community is of utmost importance to the Oxford Police Department. Because drug overdose is the top cause of death in Butler County, according to the county coroner’s office, OPD is trying to help students by giving drug and alcohol abuse prevention talks and visiting homes of children that display suspicious behavior.
“Drug use, in general, does not obey socioeconomical borders,” Jones said. “There are families where the kids are struggling with what is going on in their own homes.”
Officer Wagers stays busy, visiting Kramer Elementary and Talawanda’s middle and high schools. Although every day sees him performing different tasks, Wagers enjoys being able to keep young people in the community safe while being able to get to know them.
“I love [the job]. I think it’s definitely needed, especially in today’s world,” Wagers said. “It’s also an opportunity to interact and build good relationships with the younger generation.”