BY MICHAEL REISIG –
Joe Quinn has accomplished quite a bit in his young life so far – he is a Mena officer, he has attended and graduated SWAT School, he’s a Certified Police Instructor, a Glock Firearms Instructor, and a Taser Instructor, but one of the things he’s most proud of is the opportunity to serve and protect the children of our community as Mena’s new School Resource Officer.
Quinn was born in Hot Springs, Ark., but he grew up in South Florida, graduating from high school in 1998, in Stuart, Fla. He grew up with family and friends in law enforcement and that encouraged his direction in life.
“I remember way back in the fifth grade, the teacher asked us what we wanted to be and I said, ‘a SWAT officer,” he recalled. “Hardly anyone knew what SWAT meant then, but I did. Eighteen years later I graduated from SWAT School in Louisiana.”
Through his daytime job and his bowling team with police officer friends, he was continually drawn toward his dream, destined to make it happen, and he did.
“My father and I were looking for a change, and we found Mena on the internet,” Quinn recalled. “We moved here in November of 2004 and I was fortunate enough, that by March of 2005, I had started the auxiliary enforcement course at Rich Mountain Community College. After graduating I went to work for the Grannis Police Department, then went on to the academy in 2007. In September of 2007 I was hired by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, and it was then that I attended SWAT School, and in the process I became a Certified Police Instructor and a Glock Firearms Instructor.”
It was in his last year at Montgomery County that he became a School Resource Officer (SRO), which required him to become certified in that endeavor with 40 hours of training.
“It’s a multi-faceted position in which we serve as a liaison between schools, the community, and the police department,” Quinn explained. “Obviously security is one of the primary issues, but we provide classes/programs for pre-K through high school. In pre-K we might do a segment on stranger awareness and the job of a police officer. With elementary schools we do safety awareness and bicycle and bus safety. We actually go on the busses and teach kids about proper bus behavior. For middle and high schools we offer drug and alcohol awareness classes, and we assist in the crisis plans for our schools, which involves making sure teachers know their roles, making them more confident, which helps them react more efficiently – and this may help save lives in crisis situations. I cover all four schools in the city.”
“School Resource Officers have been around for long time, but in light of recent events around the country more schools have begun to look into SRO programs,” he continued. “Mena Police Chief Jimmy Doster had wanted to implement this program for some time, and everything came together between the police department and the schools this summer. Since the first day of this school year we have become a presence in Mena schools.”
Quinn added that with being on campuses in the area regularly, the kids have gotten to know him (and his fellow officers) as people, and the students realize that they can come to these officers for help, and that’s a very good thing.
“For me, I just love it here in Mena,” Quinn said. “This is a community that I take pride in – I’m proud to live here and serve as a police officer here. It’s a great city and a great school system and I look forward to serving here for years to come.”