Haverhill High School has a second police resource officer as of today and another officer is also being assigned to the police department’s psychological counseling team.
The moves came Friday after school officials reported increased vandalism and fighting since schools went back into session. What has been described as relatively minor vandalism is part of a national trend stemming from a social media app challenge known as “Devious Licks.” Fist fights on school grounds included an eight-person brawl that included members of the high school football and basketball teams. Haverhill Police Chief Robert P. Pistone said Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s approval of the new positions allows the department to reassign one existing patrol officer to the high school.
“We’ve always had a school resource officer at the high school as long as I can remember, but given some of the issues that have taken place at the beginning of this year we believe, and the mayor agreed, that it’s a good time to add a second SRO,” Pistone said.
Pistone said the decision to add the second resource officer immediately came because he identified a perfect candidate in Officer Christian Guzman. The patrolman currently coaches wrestling in a neighboring public school district and works at local youth camps in summertime.
“Officer Guzman loves working with kids, and he knows a lot of them already,” said Pistone.
School resource officers work 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Chief Pistone said the current police officer who works at the high school teaches a criminal justice class and attends many after-school events and activities.
“The school superintendent and I are very aware that parents are very concerned about some of the recent incidents at the high school, and I am pleased to see the School Department taking swift action to add another SRO as well as other changes to address the situation,” Fiorentini said.
The second police position will work in tandem with mental health clinicians who, under a new program starting this year, will accompany officers on service calls involving people under high stress.