There are always going to be challenges for a school resource officer at a high school with thousands of students. At Westfield High School, some of the biggest challenges are Twitter and thefts of electronics.
MPO Lou Munoz, who's worked as the school resource officer at Westfield for the last eight years, spoke with the Sully District Citizens Advisory Committee Wednesday about what his job entails and the issues he encounters with the students.
"There's 2,800 students. My first few years there, we had well over 3,000 students, with only one cop—which is me. So you do have a lot of issues, a lot of things happen on a daily basis," said Munoz, a 21-year veteran of the Fairfax County Police Department.
One of the biggest problems Munoz runs into is social media. Facebook and Twitter are often the source of rumors and bullying, he said. And what happens on social media at night ends up causing problems at school the next day.
"A lot of times if kids are in trouble because of Twitter, and they're in my office, I make them de-Twitter. I make them sign off," Munoz said.
"They're all just trashing each other. They're all just saying all kinds of nasty stuff about each other. So I tell them, 'take yourself out of the game. Don't be involved in that kind of stuff.' Because a lot of times if the kid comes to you with problems, they're out there saying stuff too," Munoz said.
Another problem is that today's teenagers—unlike their parents at that age—often own gadgets that cost $400 or $500. And many students bring iPhones or iPads to school, then leave them unattended.
Traffic is also an issue, Munoz said. Inexperienced drivers get into accidents in the parking lot, and after school there's a huge number of buses and vehicles leaving.
The most common crimes involve teenagers who get their hands on marijuana or alcohol. Sometimes Munoz also finds out about parties that teenagers plan for while parents are out of town, which can quickly become "a big mess."He tries to nip those plans in the bud by contacting parents.
"Oftentimes the detectives have to handle thefts, because 100 kids show up and they start stealing things from the house," Munoz said. "As well as kids drinking and using drugs and everything else."
A lot of the issues, though, he can sort out with kids in his office.
"I spend five or ten minutes with them," Munoz said. "I will sit down with them and kind of let them know the consequences, if possible the laws they're violating."
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