First Posted: 8/13/2014
The Dallas School District will welcome a new face to its four campuses this fall. And it’s not a student, a teacher or a faculty member.
Dallas Township Police Officer Gina Kotowski, 42, will step into the official title of “school resource officer,” but hopes the students will view her more as “role model.”
“I like to be a positive role model,” she said. “That’s in my own life with my children, too.”
Married 22 years, she has two sons — one 15 and the other 20.
“I like to show them,” she said, “that, ‘You know what? Sometimes you don’t win the game, and sometimes you do. It’s okay if you don’t win it. It’s okay if you tried real hard. And it’s good when you win it, too.’”
Mainly, she said, she wants to continue helping people, as she has been since becoming a police officer five years ago.
“I’ve been ‘Officer Gina’ for years,” she said, “and I’d love to keep it that way. I’d like the kids to feel comfortable with me enough that if, God forbid, they have something going on in their life and they think they need to call Officer Gina, I would hope that they trust me enough.”
Because the position is new in Dallas, Kotowski said the job description is still in the making, and will likely be tweaked throughout the school year as circumstances arise and feedback is received. Some basic goals she plans to strive for, however, include making herself available and visible in all four schools — the high school, middle school and two elementary schools, providing a safe environment for the students and participating in classroom activities as requested by the teachers.
The school resource officer position is a full-time 40-hour-a-week job within the Dallas Township Police Department, and is funded by a grant, co-sponsored by Dallas Township and the school district.
Police Chief Robert Jolley, who worked closely with the township board of supervisors and district officials in facilitating the grant, described the position as “a triad of being a law enforcement officer, law-related counselor and law-related educator.”
“Primarily,” he said, “the SRO provides law enforcement and police services to the school, school grounds and areas adjacent to the school.”
The ultimate goal of the program is the prevention of juvenile delinquency among the student population and criminal activity in the geographical areas of the schools.
“The addition of an SRO to the Dallas School community provides the opportunity for positive interaction between students, faculty, staff and the police,” Jolley said. “That positive interaction serves to promote the profession of police officer to be a positive role model.
“In a changing world, the increased visibility and accessibility of an officer can only heighten security on the campus of the Dallas School District. Providing for ‘better community’ can aid the Dallas Township Police in accomplishing its mission of service and protection.”
Elizabeth Martin, Dallas Township Board of Supervisors vice chair and assistant secretary-treasurer, added the township is “blessed” to include two school campus systems.
“Therefore,” she said, “the board of supervisors and our chief of police feel that it is imperative that we do what we can to ensure the safety of all students.”
Martin said in the short time she’s known Kotowski, she came to respect her as a “fine officer and person.”
“I believe that she will be steadfastly focused on the welfare of our children,” Martin said. “She has taken special courses to prepare her for the challenges that await her in the upcoming school year. She is ready, the school district is ready and the kids will love her.”