Hicks oversees campus as Berryville's resource officer
BERRYVILLE -- Craig Hicks has been walking the halls at Berryville for most of his life. And if he has his way, his time on campus won't end soon.
Hicks is the resource officer for the Berryville School District, a job he applied for and received in 2005 after former resource officer David Clark retired. Other officers on the force declined to put in for the position, leaving the job wide open for Hicks, who relishes in his responsibilities to the school, students, administrators and parents.
"I just kind of slid into it," Hicks said during a recent interview at Bobcat Arena. "The guy that had this before me, David Clark, retired. The guys that were on really didn't want it. So this was the position I applied for. Now, there are at least two that would like to have it."
Hicks spends the school year on campus, an ever-present figure walking the halls, communicating with teachers and students, and offering a genuine concern for all involved. In the summer, Hicks hits the streets on patrol and attends seminars to become better equipped to handle day-to-day operations at the school. In today's society, with school shootings erupting like Mt. Vesuvius across the nation, Hicks is the first line of defense against potential threats to Berryville's students and administration.
And while Hicks has never been faced with gunfire on campus, there have been times he's had to respond to uprisings.
"There have been a few times that I have had to diffuse a situation," Hicks said. "Experience helps with that. You have to know how to talk to people. You have to treat people with respect."
He's even been threatened with bodily injury.
"I had an eighth grade girl take a swing at me once," he laughed. "That was kind of crazy. It was a good-sized eighth grade girl, too."
Attending a game at the arena or Bobcat Stadium, fans have visual evidence Hicks is on duty as his patrol car is generally parked in plain sight.
"Everyone that walks in this building knows there's a cop in here," he said. "I always park my car right out front. When you get here it's in your mind that there is a police officer here. You never know what you deter by having somebody here. You just hope the tax dollars are spent well."
The Berryville Police Department paid for the first two years of Hicks' tenure at the school. After that, the city picked up the cost. Hicks feels like he works for two bosses.
"The hardest part of my job is keeping everybody happy," he said. "Basically, I work for two administrations. If (Berryville Superintendent) Dr. (Randy) Byrd asks me to do something I am going to do it. The city is willing to give me time to be here at the games. And I make it a point to be here."
But Hicks is not just there at the games. He talks to people as he walks around the venue, listening to stories from the city's elders and offering a smile to the younger generation. Everyone can relate to him. On many occasions, Hicks can be seen holding one of his own children (he has three) and spending time with his wife, who attends games just to be with her husband.
"People forget he's a man, a parent and a husband," Berryville Police Chief Dave Muniz said. "And he seems to do all of them well. He has a level of compassion for our fellow man that comes easy for him. He relates well with the students and staff and has a healthy relationship with the school district. And he has a real knack for it without calling attention to himself."
And Hicks is not just there as a deterrent. He keeps up with the games, knows the student-athletes by name, and can talk sports with the best of them. He played basketball at Berryville for Green Forest Superintendent Dr. Matt Summers before graduating in 1999 and has stayed close to the action since that time, building relationships one student at a time.
"You build relationships with kids," Hicks said. "I have seen relationships continue even when these kids become adults. They treat you differently then because they know you. Some of the good kids I will never know. I know the troubled ones. It's an interesting position. There are certain things I can and can't do. You have to know those things."
And Hicks seems to know his boundaries.
"He has to be confidential in information he receives," Muniz said. "He keeps things really close to the vest and has great human relation skills. That's what we want. We want the public to know we are there for good and bad and that we are going to take care of business if something comes up."