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Ozark School Officer Inspiring Kids

This year many schools are replacing campus resource officers with technology but in Ozark, schools have the locks and a police officer.
This year many schools are replacing campus resource officers with technology and automatic locks. But in Ozark, schools have the locks and a police officer. Officer Joseph Cherry walks through the doors and into the halls of six Ozark City Schools every day, saying hello to familiar faces and getting to know the new ones. He's worked for the Ozark Police Department for a decade but became a school resource officer last year.

"I had to think about it when I was offered it. It's policing but it's not policing," said Cherry.

But now with a year under his belt he's come to love his role at the schools--even referring to the students as his own.

"Of course a parent is willing to protect their child well I most certainly want to protect all my kids in my school system and that's how I look at it," said Cherry.

Some may ask, ‘isn't this too big of a job for just one person?’ Ozark Schools Superintendent says it actually only takes police two and a half minutes to get to any of the city schools--so Officer Cherry's role  is more of a mentor and positive influence.

"We sort of hand picked him from the police department cause he is capable of forming good relationships with our students. He travels to the games with them, he sees them before school, after school he talks to them and they all like him," said Dr. Michael Lenhart, Superintendent for Ozark City Schools.

Officer Cherry embraces his role as a mentor but also takes his job seriously. He says he trusts the police department to respond if there was ever a problem but still in the back of his mind one of his biggest fears is that something will happen and he won't be there.

"God forbid I don't want anything to happen at any of my schools but yes, that most definitely stays on my mind I most definitely want to be at the right place at the right time," said Cherry.

School administration say that just officer cherry's presence in the schools helps with behavior and also deters people from causing harm. It’s even led students to say they want to pursue a career in law enforcement.
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