Peninsula High School’s new Safety and Security Officer Brent Campbell knows he will be wearing many hats in his role. But he will only be wearing one thing on his feet: walking shoes.
“I averaged 16,000 steps a day at my last job,” said Campbell, who recently left his security specialist role with Monroe School District to join the Peninsula School District.
Campbell will patrol the hallways of PHS, along with area middle and elementary schools, as an armed officer. He says his duties include everything from being a counselor to being a deterrent to being a role model.
“If done properly, this is a great position to help mentor these students,” Campbell said.
Campbell will use his experience as a Redmond Police Officer to help deal with emerging issues, but the opportunity to help the district with longer-term investigations is one of the key reasons Campbell took the job.
Adding Campbell and Michael Janke at Gig Harbor High School is part of a strategic initiative to enhance security across the district.
“We’ve been waiting a long time to bring on safety and security officers in our district,” PSD School Board President Natalie Wimberley said in a statement from the district. “We are in the business of serving children, and their safety, security and well-being are paramount to this board, to our teachers, and our staff.”
The addition of Campbell was welcoming news to parents of PHS parents during the first week of the school year.
“With school violence and mental health issues on the rise, more officers around campus should allow the teachers to do their jobs and not have to do security at the same time,” said Melissa Almony, who has three kids at PHS.
Kelly McCarthy’s two kids attend the high school and this gives her family “a sense of safety and protection knowing the district and the school are being proactive and taking student safety seriously."
Campbell will work year-round, ensuring student safety during the school year and contributing to emergency management policies and procedures, and other types of training during school breaks. Last month he partnered with area middle schools to help teachers identify drug paraphernalia.
“Drug and alcohol use (with school-aged children) is an epidemic in most school districts,” he said. “Now with vaping oils, we don’t know if it’s nicotine or THC.”
Almony hopes the additional support may help reduce the “constant drug use” in the PHS bathrooms she’s heard about over the years.
Campbell and other school security officers will be enforcing the district’s new restricted cell phone policy (see “Peninsula Schools Implement New Restricted Cell Phone Policy,” KP News September 2023). Students won’t be able to use their phones and other devices, including smartwatches for most of the day. Campbell is asking parents to help reinforce this at home.
He said the new policy will also reduce cyberbullying while encouraging students to talk to each other more.
“Social media and staring down at your phone made students lose the art of communicating verbally. You forget how to talk to people, and because you’re not looking someone in the eyes when talking you forget how to respect people.”
Access to social media will be blocked on all district networks.
Campbell said he is always in contact with the school’s administration and they will share information passed on from students, parents and staff. Most behavioral issues in the school should be addressed with the administration and he will be pulled in as needed, but he still encourages anyone to come talk to him directly. Parents and students should report bullying or safety issues by filing a Report of Concern on the school’s website.
Campbell is excited about the added security to the schools. According to the district, in addition to adding the safety and security officers, new security cameras were installed at Goodman Middle School in Gig Harbor during the summer break. More will be added to other PSD schools once the district starts collecting funds from the Safety, Security and Technology levy in the spring.
“I applaud PSD for their investment toward safety,” Campbell said. “Students deserve to learn in a safe and secure environment.”
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