After Missoula County Public Schools voiced their support for School Resource Officers assigned to high schools and middle schools, the Police Department echoed the positive results of the program.

Police spokesman Travis Welsh said the current School Resource Officer program grew out of the original D.A.R.E. Program from the 1980’s.

“Over the years it has morphed from the time when we had one D.A.R.E. officer which stood for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, and that one officer worked in all the schools in District One,” said Welsh. “That’s has now morphed into our School Resource Officers where we have one officer assigned to each high school, one safety and security officer and an officer assigned to the middle schools, with another for Hellgate Elementary.”

Welsh said the view from the chief’s office is that the program has been a success.

“We feel like it’s been very successful,” he said. “We have a great relationship with our community partners, which has continued to prosper. We have great interaction with the kids. Ione thing the SRO Program has done is to bridge the communication gap between our youth and law enforcement, and it’s allowed kids in our community that policemen and women are real people, too. We feel it’s really manifested itself through its success.”

Welsh said police officers sometimes compete for the chance to become a School Resource Officer, and it comes down to who leadership staff feels will be the best fit.

The MPD currently has three School Resource Officers assigned to the public high schools in the City of Missoula in School District 1.

Officer Jeff Lloyd works at Big Sky High, Officer Mark Monaco at Sentinel High and Officer Jim Johnson at Hellgate High.