Hampton welcomes new school resource officers

Friday, September 6, 2019 | 7:06 PM

Nelson Mandela once said, “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation.”

Five days a week, each school year, the community entrusts its greatest asset — the students — to the Hampton Township School District. To help ensure the safety and security of the students, HTSD has partnered with the Hampton Township Police Department to provide the District with a School Resource Officer.

School Resource Officers (SROs) are sworn officers who are assigned to a school or school district on a long-term basis. In the case of Hampton Township School District, the SRO is a trained police officer with the Hampton Township Police Force. The SRO is primarily stationed at Hampton High School, but visits the other four schools as part of the educational component and also as needed.  A number of officers have served in this role since the SRO position was created. This fall, HTSD welcomes two new faces as official SROs for the District: Officer Carl Good and Officer Sarah Hoffman.

Officer Good will serve as the primary SRO for the District. He will assume the position full time starting November 1. He has worked as a police officer for 18 years, with 11 of those at Hampton Township Police Department. Officer Good is a resident of Hampton, and has had two of his three children graduate from the District. A graduate of Penn Trafford High School, Officer Good holds an Administrative Justice degree from the University of Pittsburgh and graduated from the Indiana (Pa.) University Police Academy. He worked as a campus police officer at Duquesne University for eight years prior to joining the Hampton Township Police.

When the SRO position opened up at Hampton, Officer Good said he saw it as an opportunity to put some of his skills to good use. As a certified CPR teacher and volunteer firefighter, Office Good said those skills would be particularly useful as an SRO. “These are skills I’ve wanted to teach to students, and that I feel would be useful for students to learn, and this is a perfect opportunity to do so,” he said.

As part of his role as SRO, Officer Good said it is his goal to organize community programs for the students and their families, to help build rapport and relationships. “These would be fun, social events where we could just hang out and get to know one another,” he said. “I want the community to feel comfortable with me and to get to know me, so that if they ever need my assistance, we already have a relationship.”

A problem-solver, Officer Good said he has an open-door policy and hopes students and their families will be comfortable enough with him to seek him out in situations that warrant his involvement. “I want to make sure we get the best outcome from the situation, no matter what the situation is,” he said.

Prior to Officer Good taking the helm, Officer Hoffman will serve in the position from August through October. A 2007 Hampton High School graduate, Officer Hoffman said returning to her Alma Mater has been very nostalgic. “It feels like just yesterday when I was a student. It brings back a lot of fond memories.”

Officer Hoffman said she always wanted to be a police officer, and loves the community police aspect of serving as an SRO. “It’s just one of those jobs that I feel like it calls to certain people.” There was a time when Officer Hoffman says she toyed with the idea of becoming a jockey instead of a police officer because she loves horses. “But the growth spurt I had in seventh grade that left me at 6-feet tall kind of put an end to that dream,” she said, laughing.

Like Officer Good, she also believes in an open-door policy, and will be working to build relationships with students and their families. “The more people who are comfortable talking to you, the easier it will be if they ever have an event that requires police intervention,” she said.

When Officer Good assumes the SRO role full time, Officer Hoffman will continue to assist in the role as needed. She also will be teaching some of the SRO safety classes for students.

Chief Tom Vulakovich – who served as the first SRO at HTSD – said the position is an important part of community policing. In addition to the two SROs, Chief Vulakovich requires all daylight shift officers to stop by the District’s five schools throughout their shifts. “We want the community to know that we are focused on keeping the schools safe and secure. It also provides the added benefit of students getting more familiar with our officers, so they see them as a trusted resource.”

Dr. Rebecca Cunningham, HTSD Assistant Superintendent, said the District values its working relationship with the police department, and views the ongoing collaboration as a true partnership. “It is reassuring to know Chief Vulakovich and the police department so well, and to know that they are completely invested in keeping our students safe.”