COLOMA — Coloma Community Schools will have a full-time school resource officer in the district starting next school year.
The Coloma Township Board gave its approval at its meeting Wednesday night for Officer Dan Stuglik to be posted at the district during the school year.
“It’s a collaboration with the school that we’ve been working on for a few years,” Police Chief Wes Smigielski said. “I’ve gotten so much great feedback and support from the community already, it’s not even funny. We hope to bridge the gap between the juveniles and the police department, and to shed some light on us and build some trust.”
Stuglik has been a police officer for 15 years and has been working part time with the Coloma Township Police Department since September 2009.
Before Coloma Township, he worked in Benton Harbor where he lead a team of eight school resource officers. He said when he started in Coloma he visited and did presentations at the schools, as well as help coordinate community events with the department.
“I love that I get to play an intimate role in making the community better,” Stuglik said. “Coloma has been a welcoming community since I’ve been there and I’ve enjoyed how they’ve opened up to having a relationship with the department and I’m glad I get to be a part of it.”
Smigielski said this position is highly needed in the schools because of the amount of social media bullying that is going on.
“He’s going to be doing a lot of training on the social media aspects of law and the consequences of cyber bulling,” he said.
Stuglik said he also hopes to start a service organization in the district that pairs high school students with elementary school students.
“They’ll not only be completing community service projects, but mentoring younger students at the same time,” he said.
Coloma schools Superintendent Dave Ehlers said the district is very excited about having Stuglik in the district.
“It’s going to be great for the community, the schools and the kids,” he said. “This is kind of his passion: working with kids. He’s going to do a great job. I’m glad we were finally able to work it out with the police department.”
The school district will give $30,000 a year, through some state at-risk dollars, toward his salary, with the police department paying the rest. Ehlers said that’s a good deal for the district and the police department.
Stuglik will go full-time with the police department in mid-June, then move into the school district at the beginning of the school year. When school is not in session he will serve as a township police officer.
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