Along with all the new changes Sandpoint High School is experiencing, a new resource officer will be seen around the campus.
For 7 years, Officer Spencer Smith was a well-known, respected figure in the halls of Sandpoint High School. He interacted with students and became a friend to many, but most importantly, he ensured the safety of the school and staff.
Ryan Root, a police officer of almost 24 years, will be taking Officer Smith’s place while Smith goes back to patrolling.
Root spent 22 and a half years of his time on duty in Southern California. When he retired, he moved to Idaho where he was hired by the Sandpoint Police Department and has been working on the force for over a year. He has done many different types of police work in the past such as working on helicopters, on boats, and in jails.
“I’ve been a police officer for so long, [but] I’ve never been a school resource officer,” Root said.
Being at a desk most of the day as opposed to being on patrol is definitely a change of pace for Root.
Ironically, Root said, “I got into law enforcement because I didn’t want to sit in an office, and now I’m sitting in an office.”
Despite the fact that he will miss the thrill of not knowing what he is going to end up discovering on the job, he is ready to dive into the responsibilities of protecting a school.
The school resource officer is responsible for the safety of the school(s) they are assigned to. This includes monitoring safe driving in the high school parking lot, ensuring safety protocols for lockdown drills, and other behind the scenes safety measures.
They also help out the school’s administration when needed. There is a lot of camaraderie between the resource officer and the school’s administration as they work together on issues.
Assistant Principal Derek Dickinson can already sense that he and the administration will have a good rapport with Root.
Dickinson explained that having a police officer stationed at the school “bridge[s] the gap between the school system and Sandpoint Police.” There is often an unspoken tension between teens and police officers so knowing there is an officer down the hall who is approachable can be helpful for students.
“We’re not here to police the students,” Root said. “We’re here to make sure the students are safe.”
Root believes that it is a great opportunity for students at Sandpoint High School to be able to see and talk to a police officer at school.
“I’m super laid back…[students] can come up and talk to me anytime,” he said.
In regards to Smith leaving a legacy as a great resource officer, Dickinson said, “There are some big shoes to fill”. However, he and the administration have been impressed by Root so far.
“He seems like he is very dedicated and seems like he has a good connection with kids,” Dickinson said.
As Root jumps into this new position, there will be a lot for him to learn on the fly, but he is ready to accept a new challenge.