City Schools of Decatur School Resource Officer Matthew Damico fosters positive relationships with students from the very young to the college-bound. “I take every child’s safety and wellbeing to heart. I want them to leave our community at 18 ready to be healthy members of society.”
Matthew Damico started working as a Decatur patrol officer in 2009. His past experience working with troubled youth made him the ideal candidate to work with the students in the City Schools of Decatur. He eventually transitioned to his current position as a School Resource Officer (SRO).
“Each one of those communities has a specific need. With the youngest students, I’m present to be a positive role model, create exposure, and help them form as little citizens. Middle school students rarely engage in criminal conduct, but they often have issues where they need support. In the high school, the overwhelming majority of students are fantastic young people, but everyone makes mistakes. One of our goals is to act as a liaison between the police department, the school, and the community, and to not treat every criminal act simply as the criminal act but to look at it from a holistic approach.”
Officer Damico‘s success and popularity amongst the students is a result of long-term relationship building that occurs over the years. “One needs to take the opportunity to plant the seeds for a positive relationship. You can’t rush it. I take every child’s safety and wellbeing to heart. I prefer my children to make mistakes when they’re young. Nothing can’t be fixed at this stage. I want them to leave our community at 18, ready to be healthy members of society.”
One of the challenges Officer Damico faces is the tendency for others to pre-judge police officers. “Before I get out of the car, people have already decided what my feelings are regarding race, gender, ethnicity, politics, and that’s difficult. I really want people to see me as an individual.”