A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Our Campus Cop is Tops

Walking around, educating students about making good choices. Making sure Demons are safe here on campus. Dealing with issues the school may have. Officer Tatum, Greenway’s Resource Officers, is making a positive impact on every student she meets.

Ms. Tatum wasn’t always a police officer, she was an English teacher. Along with being an English teacher, she was also a speech therapist. Ms. Tatum was a teacher for about 15 years before she decided to become a police officer.

Back in 2005, her ex-husband had been training to become a police officer. Tatum would help her husband and some of his buddies from the academy study. She would make their note cards, power points, etc. with the lesson plans. “I was very much a teacher,” said Tatum. With her helping them learn about being a police officer, she had become very interested in it. She was never able to act upon it because life had gotten in the way.

At 35 years old, “I decided I wasn’t getting any younger and I decided just to go for it,” said Tatum. About three years she had gone through the academy and became a patrol person. On February 17, 2020, it will be her 3-year mark.

Before working here at Greenway, she worked downtown patrolling the streets at night. However, having two kids at home, it can be difficult to patrol after dark. When she heard that she could apply to work at the schools, Ms. Tatum signed right up. “[Being able to] come back to the schools, [was] a goal of mine,” said Ms. Tatum. 

When she started to think about becoming a school resource officer, she had been offered some positions in a far area. But when she heard that our old police officer might be leaving, she took her chance and waited for our school’s position to open up. She was happy when she heard that she got in because she had grown up in our district. As a teenager, she attended Moon Valley, so she knew this was the district she wanted to be in. 

Being able to be part of the school again allows her to still change the minds of students for the good; able to change the way students think about police officers. To help and make sure that students are not going and making bad mistakes that she has seen on the streets. Ms. Tatum said that kids do certain things that they may not know that they’re supposed to do. “With social media, cameras, and photos [ that might flow around] [students] don’t know that some of that stuff is criminal.” Having to educate students about good and bad actions is a huge opportunity for her. Making a positive change and making sure that they are prepared for the real world is the goal that she wants to accomplish.

Here at Greenway, she handles many issues. Most of what she does is educating students on the right and wrongs of things. Some thins Ms. Tatum does on campus, is she will go into classrooms and teach students how to act when they are pulled over; “what they have they have to do by law or what they should do,” said Ms. Tatum. When she’s not educating students, she is in the parking lot dealing with accidents. Ms. Tatum has to figure out whether “it’s an accident that needs a report, or an accident that just needs to exchange information with one another.”  Sometimes she has to deal with what students might say on social media. Her job is to handle the issues around campus to decide if they are considered criminal actions.

Being a police officer isn’t always pretty; the job can become nasty. Since becoming a police officer, Ms. Tatum said that she has been in a few fights. There are even times that little children will even backtalk to an officer. “I have been out on calls that six-year-olds have called me trouble names,” said Ms. Tatum. How they don’t have to do what she say, but in reality, they have to. Police officers are put into situations and have work with what is their “scoop” in order to manage the solution better.

From having a mother, teacher, police officer standpoint, Ms. Tatum believes that it is important that schools have police officers on campus. Being able to make positive influences in students, and with being able to have a good relationship with the students. Having police officers right on campus can help prevent a crime. It can take about 4 minutes for officers to arrive, but having them already here can stop the threat before it gets out of hand.

Ms. Tatum would say that she is thrilled to be here on Greenway. How it feels like home because she knows some teachers growing up. She is excited to be apart of Greenway, and to be here to watch many students grow and learn from their mistakes.