From presentations in classes such as AVID, to consulting with staff members School Resource Officer Raphael Park has become a part of Tillicum Middle School’s community. When asked from his perspective what his role is as a school resource officer, Officer Park said, “being a good role model, being a resource for the kids and staff.”
Park has become a member of the school community because “Officer Park isn’t here to try and solve something. He’s just here to be a part of the classroom family,” said Piper Sangston, Tillicum social worker for the Cascade program.
“Most of my day to day job is building relationships with the kids and the staff,” Park said. “I try to sit down and talk with the kids, participate in some of the activities that they are doing, stop by classrooms, and play badminton with the kids at lunch time.”
Park works to be integral in the school day and build trust with the students so that they know they can come to him about anything. With his gentle demeanor, voice tone and the way he approaches a situation calmly, students respond to his authority.
In Mary Ingraham’s AVID class earlier this school year, Park shared his journey through school, as an Olympian, and of the work it took to go into law enforcement. “The kids immediately had respect for him and just really connected,” said Ingraham of her students during Officer Park’s presentation.
In addition to providing information to students, he also inspires them. Seventh grade AVID student, Abigail Swanson, said that after his presentation many students were interested in becoming police officers because they want to protect and save people. Swanson included herself in this group of aspiring officers saying, “it seems like a really cool job and it makes you feel like a hero.”
Building relationships with students fosters a safe environment at school. Staff at Tillicum say they appreciate the presence of Officer Park and his proactive style. Officer Park has “the ability to be able to keep kids safe, not just in school, but also outside of the school. He is aware of what our kids are doing, hang out areas and how to make those safer for the kids that are here at school,” said Ron Hay, paraeducator at Tillicum.
“My primary goal as SRO is ensure the safety of the school,” said Park.
He also works with staff to stay prepared in case of an emergency. During lockdown drills, Officer Park shadows Assistant Principal Duke Truong, to know exactly how the building would operate during an emergency. He works closely with Truong to stay connected with student and staff needs, from a safety perspective.
With the Bellevue Police Department for more than 11 years, Officer Park likes his new role as school resource officer at Tillicum Middle School. Officer Park said, “The staff here is extraordinary. I really enjoy just being around the kids and the staff.”
The feeling is mutual, according to Hay. “Officer Park has definitely been a tremendous resource for us here.”