by Daniel Moore
Press Staff Writer
Every school in American Falls School District is now covered by a school resource officer. Larry Jones, who recently retired with the American Falls Police Force, has been hired part-time by the school district and part-time by the city to cover the three schools in town: Hillcrest Elementary, J.R. Simplot Elementary and William Thomas Middle School, the three schools inside the city limits.
American Falls High School, which is outside the city limits, also has its own resource officer through an agreement with Power County and the school district.
Working with the students is nothing new to Jones. He has been operating the DARE drug prevention program since the early 1990s. He will continue teaching the program as part of his resource officer duties.
“I like the schools, I always have,” Jones said.
The principals at the different schools reached out to him when the position came open. Jones said his main duty as a resource officer is to look out for the students.
“I’m an advocate for the kids,” he said. “I help with discipline in the schools. I’m someone they can come talk to when they have issues.”
When children are suspended from school, Jones is part of the discussion on what the best step for the children will be, and he is a resource to draw upon when discussing legal ramifications of a student’s actions.
It not only benefits the schools to have an officer present, but it helps the county and city officers concentrate on other things.
“They aren’t always having to run over to the school if there’s a problem,” Jones said.
He also interacts with the students. He teaches fly-tying at JRSE, and during the SKILLS program at WTMS, he accompanied the students to learn to ski. There is a ski bus each Saturday leaving from WTMS, and he helps run the bus as well.
Jones operates out of WTMS, but visits each school at least once a day. He started as a police reserve in the early 1980s, and eventually moved up at the department. His entire career was with the city of American Falls.
He said going into law enforcement was always what he planned on doing.
“My friends in school all said they knew that is what I was going to do,” Jones said.
He added that working with the students is really what makes his jobs worthwhile.
“I just enjoy the kids and I think we have a great bunch of kids in the district,” he said.
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