New resource officers: BV doubles school security
Berryville Police Department officers Greg Noftsger and Kevin Disheroon have traded the streets for hallways, patrolling the Berryville School District as its new school resource officers (SROs).
Noftsger said this is the first year Berryville has had two SROs, doubling security for the district. He covers the elementary and intermediate schools, he said, while Disheroon covers the middle and high schools.
“I’m proud of this community for getting another [SRO] in the school,” Noftsger said. “It shows that the school is behind our community and willing to protect our kids. There is always someone on each campus now.”
He said he started as a jailer in the old jail.
“I did that for a year and a half. Then I became a county deputy,” Noftsger said. “In 2005, I started with the Berryville Police Department, and I’ve been working with them ever since.”
Disheroon said he began working as a police officer in the Green Forest Police Department’s reserve program in 2001.
“I was a reserve officer in Green Forest for about six months before I came to Berryville,” he said. “I’ve been here since 2002, and I’ve served about every role you can serve as an officer. I worked a lot of criminal cases and was the patrol sergeant before I came to the school.”
Noftsger and Disheroon said they are excited about the opportunity to serve as SROs for the Berryville School District.
“I was getting to a point where I was about ready to retire,” Noftsger said, “and someone said ‘Would you like to go down to the school?’ I thought ‘Yes, I would.’ I thought if I could make a difference in one kid’s life and make them change the direction they’re going to a better direction then that would be awesome.”
“I got to a point in my career where I wanted to do something different,” Disheroon said, “and this opportunity became available. I accepted it, and it’s been a blessing. I’ve really enjoyed the role I’ve played so far.”
Noftsger agreed, saying he gets to interact not only with the students but also their parents.
“I think if you get to know the parents you get to know the kids,” he said. “There are parents out there who need help. I want to get to the point where if parents need help, like a single mother who’s struggling, then maybe we ca help out in certain ways with their kids.”
Disheroon said he is learning about being a resource officer as he goes.
“It’s a whole different aspect to law enforcement,” he said. “So far, I’ve really enjoyed it. I like the kids. My daughter graduated from here, and I’ve got a son who’s a senior this year. I’ve been around a lot of those kids most of my life. I saw it as another opportunity to do something different in my career. Hopefully, I can finish out my career at the school.”
Being an SRO is different in several ways, Noftsger said.
“When I worked the street, I didn’t get 100 hugs a days from kids,” he said, laughing. “Even the parents I’ve arrested come up and shake my hand now because they see how well I treat their children. It makes a difference.”
While people might think it would be boring to sit at the school all day, Disheroon said SROs can stay as busy as they want to be.
“The safety of the students and the staff is my number one priority and my number one responsibility,” he said. “Probably one of the biggest perks of the job is being a mentor. That’s something you don’t get to do as much on the street.”
He said he’s just as busy as in the past, but it’s a different type of busy now.
“I love it when kids want to come in my office just to sit down and talk,” Disheroon said. “A lot of times when they come in there’s a problem or issue and that’s why they’re in there, but some of the kids will come in just to talk. There’s a lot of one-on-one mentorship and guidance.”
Noftsger agreed that one of the biggest parts of being an SRO is mentoring the students.
“We get to be a mentor,” he said. “Every morning, I sit out there and give them high fives. It’s awesome.”
“A lot of these kids are taught to be afraid of us,” Disheroon said. “It’s nice to be able to break that barrier down. I’ve always found that if you treat people with respect regardless of their age you’re going to get that in return.”
He continued, “I don’t care if they’re a teenager or a younger kid. If you show them respect, usually you’ll get that in return. They may not always like you, but they’re probably going to respect you.”
Noftsger said he also encourages the intermediate students to be mentors for the elementary students.
“I’m at the elementary three days a week and spend two days over at intermediate,” he said, “I tell the intermediate students they need to be mentors for the elementary students. I say ‘They look up to you, so you need to set an example for my younger kids,’ and they’re like ‘Oh, OK.’ It makes them feel like they are doing something, and they are.”
He said the elementary has also been working on increasing security recently by implementing a new check-in system for visitors. He said visitors must now present photo identification at the front office before being allowed to enter the building.
“We’re piloting that program at the elementary,” Noftsger said. “I think eventually it will be in every school. I think [principal] Kelly Swofford did a great job getting that implemented. You have to have ID when you come in so we know who’s in the school.”
Disheroon and Noftsger said they have enjoyed being SROs so far and are grateful for the opportunity.
“I just love being in the school,” Noftsger said. “I’m so thankful to the school and community for allowing me to do this job.”