By Scott Kent, Alexandria police chief

It has been a busy summer in Alexandria and Douglas County the past three months. We have been making some changes inside the Alexandria Police Department. We are currently training in two of our newest officers, Abigail Mumme and Logan Sanborn, and working to fill a third open position. All these positions are replacing previous officers that have either retired or left the agency.

As we start to prepare for back to school, I would like to introduce you to our school resource officers. Officer Ryan Cook will be assigned to the Alexandria Area High School for the third year. Officer Cook has yet to have a full year start to finish at AAHS since he took over mid-year in 2019. He has been with the city for 13 years and is starting the fourth school year as one of two school resource officers.

Officer Brandon Plumski will be taking over for Officer Darcie Zirbes at Discovery Middle School. Officer Zirbes served six years at DMS and has proven to be a very valuable resource to our community. Officer Zirbes has moved into a different role. As this new role develops a bit more, I will be bringing the concept to you in the next article. Officer Plumski has been with the city for five years and is looking for a new challenge within our department. Prior to becoming a police officer, Brandon worked for nearly 10 years as a pharmacy technician and then went back to school.

What does a school resource officer do? Our school resource officers are most importantly connecting with the students in the schools. They are working in partnership with the teachers and staff for security, safety, problem solving, and most importantly, building trust.

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These two officers are also teaching DARE to over 300 students a year at the elementary schools in Alexandria. The officers have a visible presence in the areas of the school that large groups of students will be present such as passing between classes, lunch and at the beginning and end of the school day.

We also ask them to step in and investigate truancy issues, crimes that may have happened during the school day and assist the child protection team to resolve family situations as discretely as we can. You will likely see these officers at school dances, prom and athletic events throughout the year.

This last year, students asked if Officer Cook could be a part of the graduation ceremony which he graciously accepted. Not only do they teach DARE, they are also going into classrooms for discussions about policing, community and safety with the main emphasis on building relationships.

This last January, Mayor Bobbie Osterberg emphasized her vision of Integrity, Commitment and Engagement (ICE). The Alexandria Police Department and its members work every day to ensure that the vision of ICE reflects on our commitment not only at the schools but within our community.

Scott Kent is the Alexandria police chief. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.