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Oro Valley school resource officers help welcome kids back to campus

Painted Sky Elementary school resource officer
Posted at 6:49 AM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 09:49:03-04

ORO VALLEY, ARIZ. (KGUN) — During the first week of school at Painted Sky Elementary, Officer Greg Chmara, walked around campus to greet the new students. Less than a year ago, his work day looked a lot different.

"As a school resource officer, you're used to being with the kids, getting to know the kids, building relationships and rapport with the kids. It's really hard when they're not on campus and you don't get to see them," said Chmara.

Officer Chmara decided to get creative. He filmed a series of educational videos for the students, which covered topics like bullying, self control and self esteem.

"We're up to 22 episodes now. Once a week, I'd talk about a message that would reach the kids. I really try to connect with them. Then I release that video through the teachers," said Chmara.

The students have tuned in.

"The next thing you know, I walk around campus and the kids are screaming out, 'Hi Officer Greg!', and waving at me all over campus," said Chmara.

"I'm glad that I get to experience some fun with him again," said Painted Sky Elementary student, Steven Watson.

The Oro Valley Police Depart staffs six officers across the town's public, private and charter schools. In recent years, the role of police on campus has been debated among neighboring school districts like Tucson Unified.

Leaders at Painted Sky Elementary said their campus is better because of them.

"It's not just the officers that think it's important. We do too. It really has a big impact," said Painted Sky Elementary School Principal, Bethany Papajohn.

"By starting in the schools and teaching our children early that we're just like them, it really helps them understand. They won't be scared of law enforcement officers when they encounter them in the public. They understand that they're just like a school resource officer and they are there to help," said Chmara.