Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs Police Officer Josh Carrell is no stranger to the halls of Steamboat Springs High School.
Carrell, SSHS class of 1997, begins duties as his alma mater's school resource officer Monday, a role of authority that he likens to a teacher or administrator returning to his or her old stomping grounds.
"I was born and raised here, and seeing the issues I dealt with and knowing the perspective a lot of these kids are coming from, makes the position pretty unique to me," he said. "I understand what they see and what they have to deal with on a daily basis. From what I hear, since I've been gone things have only gotten worse."
Carrell replaces Debra Funston, who had a few words of advice Thursday for Carrell - be patient with raging teenage hormones and remember to always be a mentor and a friend.
"I think some of the challenges are that you are trying really hard to make an impact, but you often feel like you are not," said Funston, who is leaving the position after five years to work in public education with Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue.
"You feel like you are trying, but kids are not perfect and kids are going to make mistakes and they are going to disappoint you," she said. "That part of it makes it feel at times you are trying to battle something you can't win. Then, you are surprised by how many kids you have touched and people you have impacted."
An active proponent against teen drinking while working with the Youth Wellness Initiative, Carrell comes into the job with an established connection with youths.
"He's played a real active role with the kids in the community anyway, so he has a head start on anybody who would have taken this position," Funston said.
"He's actually a superhero," she added with a laugh.
Shadowing Funston for the past two weeks, Carrell has taken every opportunity to introduce himself to students. He avoids poking his head into classrooms, but Carrell said stopping students in hallways or sharing a lunch table is a good way to make an introduction.
"I just want to know them and gain their trust," he said. "I want to help create a school that is an extended family beyond their homes where they can come and feel safe, trust each other : and have an environment where they respect each other like you wish to be respected across all grades, races and ages."
Carrell will take on the school resource officer position at the beginning of debates about a proposed plan by the Steamboat Springs School District to install internal school surveillance cameras.
Despite Carrell's advocacy for placing security cameras inside schools, his presence already has convinced many students that he is all that's needed to keep law and order.
"He seems great, he seems like he really wants to be part of the school and he has a sense of excitement about him," said senior Taylor Miller-Freutel, student body president. "He makes me feel a lot safer than cameras because it's actually someone there and someone that you can personally come to if something is wrong."
Carrell noted that while his primary responsibility is law enforcement, he hopes to be a mentor.
"In order to make the most impact, you have to be more of a mentor than a friend," said Carrell, a six-year veteran with Steamboat police.
"I wanted to come up here and work with the kids," he said. "I like working with this age group and being involved in making some positive changes in their life."
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