Nearly five months ago a school shooting at Dixon High School was stopped before anyone was hurt because school Resource Officer Mark Dallas stepped in and took down the shooter. Now another school in Dixon is taking a step to keep its students safe.
Sauk Valley Community College will now have a school resource officer of its own. With the schools in the same community and Sauk Valley being an open campus, administration realized a need to make their students and staff feel safe and decided to make a resource officer, with the same training as Officer Mark Dallas, a permanent fixture at the school.
“I actually think it’s a great idea, especially with it being an open campus”, says student Shianne Warner,
Sauk Valley Community College’s resource officer will be a part of the staff on December 1st. Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Kellen will be that officer. His addition is something Dean of Security Eric Epps considers crucial.
“It’ll certainly help planning and it’ll also help communication just because having, having that officer out here as the point of contact, to be able to contact directly with other law enforcement”, said Dean Epps.
The new role will include an office on campus for the officer but Epps doesn’t anticipate Deputy Kellen will spend much time there.
Epps says, “he’ll be, he’ll be moving around talking to people, he’ll be doing training, both with our security, our faculty and staff and students so he’ll be very visible”.
That visibility will help him get to know the school and make students, like Anah Chamberlain, feel safe.
“The fact that we could, it’s just this one set person and it’s never fluctuating between people you don’t know I feel like it would be a safe place for me to go and talk to somebody”, says Chamberlain.
Epps continued, “we have you know we have students that have seen resource officers in the high schools and so we wanted to make sure that they had that same kind of feeling of security when they came here at Sauk”.
With Sauk Valley Community College being in Dixon, school officials realize that some of the first year students walking through their doors will be the same ones who were inside Dixon High School when Matthew Milby opened fire during school hours earlier this year. Students and staff at Sauk Valley acknowledged that was one of the factors in bringing a resource officer in.
“Maybe they’re struggling with PTSD, or just some uneasy feelings because of the shooting I think that may make them feel more comfortable here, you know feel like themselves”, says Warner.
Deputy Kellen has more than 30 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter, EMT, and 9-11 dispatcher and has been a patrol deputy for the Sheriff’s Office since 2006.