HANNAHVILLE, Mich. (WJMN) – Nah Tah Wahsh Public School Academy is serves about 200 students in grades K-12. Everyone, is a familiar face, including School Resource Officer Ken Taylor.
“It’s the first thing everyone asks is, ‘What exactly do you do?’ It’s very different from the ordinary policing,” said Officer Ken Taylor, Hannahville Tribal Police Department. “You’re expected to be an informal counselor at times. Sometimes students just need someone to talk to. On the other hand, there are times when you’re expected to do a presentation so it’s a little bit of teaching in there too and you have to be willing to put that material together to do that. You might teach D.A.R.E. or emergency management programs of some type, it just depends on whatever the situation is. Sometimes you read a book to the younger students. The other end of that is the law enforcement end where when issues arise, you have to address them. But where it’s different than being out on road patrol or something like that is when it comes to juveniles and how you address them. You want to do what’s in the best interest of that student.”
Helping to mold the minds of the future into being the best they can be.
“He has a great personality and he gets along with people really well,” said Nah Tah Wahsh 6th grader, Raven Meshigaud. “So that kind of reflects on the students.”
“I think that they respect him a lot because he kind of just helps everybody and he’s really nice to everybody, and he helps protect the school,” added Nah Tah Wahsh 6th grader, Raul Larson.
Officer Taylor says he wants these students to not be afraid of police and know they are here to protect their citizens. He does this though having a positive attitude and whether it’s a simple hello or an appreciation gift of art, you can see that these students respect him, because he respects them.
“You have to make a conscious decision to be positive and one of the things I thought of recently was, cause I think as an SRO you got look at yourself and say, ‘What is the image I’m giving off?’ And do it for the right reasons, not cause you want to shine or you want to be an authority figure. I thought about that and I thought, ‘I want to be a positive person in someone’s life,'” said Officer Taylor.
“His impact here is hard to measure, just because it impacts a lot in all aspects that we do,” said Dr. Matthew Johnson-Reeves, Superintendent, Nah Tah Wahsh Public School Academy. “It’s just a great resource to have at our fingertips to consult with and provide that input and like I said build relationships with kids and it happens every day.”
Officer Taylor goes far beyond his duties in the school as well. Recently, Hannahville Indian Community Victim Services presented him with the ‘Making the Difference Award.’
“Officer Taylor makes a difference every single day,” said Wendy Middaugh, Director, Hannahville Victim Services. “He makes a difference in the lives of so many of the children here in Hannahville. We’re so thankful he’s our resource officer at our school. He is a member of the Hannahville Police Department. So he’s connected to the police department and the school and our work with him is because there are times where there might be a victim of crime and the family, so the children are upset and they’re maybe going to have a rough day and Officer Taylor knows who those people are and makes sure that he handles it with care.”
Hannahville Victim Services works closely with law enforcement, and when someone is in danger, his kind and personal approach is helpful to everyone involved.
“We thought about appreciating someone and everyone agreed that Officer Taylor was the person,” said Merry Esp, Advocate, Hannahville Victim Services. “He just really represents, what he does well is work with the children at the school but also working in the court office and in the community and anytime we’ve ever asked for him to help out, he jumps at the chance.”
“When you get an award as a police officer, even as a school resource officer, it’s not just your award,” said Officer Taylor. “In my department, all these years they allowed my time here at the school and so the reward it’s theirs as well. The school welcomes me here, the reward is theirs. And then victim services, all the work they do and then to recognize me, reach out to me and give me that… as law enforcement you work with victim services pretty much at a daily basis, you might not always be with them in person but there is always a connection between what you do and what they do, because ultimately we’re here to serve.”
Making a positive impact on the community. Officer Taylor heard something that struck a cord with him and maybe, it does to you as well.
“If you realized what your negativity does to other people, you would never do it,” said Officer Taylor. “If you truly realized what your negativity does to other people, you wouldn’t do it. That really kind of changed my mentality a little bit and I’m like, ‘You know what? I’m here for them. I’m suppose to be a role model for them. That’s what I’m expected to do.’ As long as I am here, that’s what I’m going to do.”