As the school year comes to a close, we caught up with School Resource Officers Alaina Carrion and Elizabeth Rieffer to hear about their new roles at Roseville Area Schools.
Roseville Area High School Resource Officer Elizabeth Rieffer devotes a portion of each day chatting with students about everything from homework hassles to the finer points of the latest viral video game.
Over at Roseville Area Middle School, School Resource Officer Alaina Carrion is outside every day greeting students and parents during morning drop off and afternoon pickup.
“My mom thinks you are really nice,” one student recently told Carrion. “She loves seeing you outside every day.”
Strengthening connections between law enforcement and students and their families is an integral part of the newly expanded Roseville School Resource Officer [SRO] program.
“Our purpose is to build relationships and solve problems at the lowest levels,” said Roseville Deputy Police Chief Joe Adams.
This is the first year a Roseville Police SRO has been assigned to the middle school, in addition to the high school. The SROs work at the schools full time, collaborating with staff and administrators. They serve on the District Safety and Security Team alongside the assistant superintendent and other leaders. The SRO positions are jointly funded by the City of Roseville and Roseville Area Schools.
In addition to her work in the middle school, Carrion also collaborates with leaders at the district’s elementary schools.
“We know that every person that walks into our schools is somebody’s somebody. The weight of that responsibility is something we think about a lot,” explains Roseville Area Schools Assistant Superintendent Melissa Sonnek. “The purpose of the District Safety & Security Team is to keep our schools safe and secure and to create alignment and support for site-based school safety. Our partnership with Roseville Police Department and our SROs is an important part of that.”
Roseville Area Middle School
Student safety is a top priority at the middle school. That’s why Carrion is outside every day in the rain and snow greeting students.
“I feel like these are my kids and if they’re outside, I need to be outside,” Carrion said. “I am greeting but I am also outside observing and protecting.”
Many parents have expressed their support for adding an SRO to the middle school, she said.
“I am another resource. I have connections to emergency medical service and law enforcement, and I can get help here very quickly,” Carrion said.
During a typical day, Carrion is focused on those positive moments with students. That can include impromptu chats in the hallway and activities including art projects and board games with her and other officers. Some of that artwork has been framed and is now hung at the police department.
“The school has welcomed me with open arms. The staff is phenomenal. They are so positive,” Carrion said.
Roseville Area High School
Rieffer, who moved from patrol into the SRO role last fall, said protecting students is at the heart of her mission.
“I took this position because I want to be here to help these kids if something happens,” Rieffer said.
Rieffer said she’s also using her position to encourage teens to make good decisions and get excited about their futures. She chats with students sitting in the commons during their open periods. She is in the hallways walking stragglers to class and getting life updates at the same time.
“They talk to me about everything. They tell me about family vacations, siblings, Pokémon Go,” Rieffer said. “Sometimes, they just need to vent about homework or, ‘My parents took my phone away!’”