Deputy Shields assigned to Douglas High School
Soon, Deputy Greg Shields’ distinctive profile will be very familiar to Douglas County’s teen-agers, thanks to a federal grant.
Shields, a 17-year veteran of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, has been chosen as the department’s first school resource officer and will be stationed at Douglas High School.
Shields was praised by those who have observed his work as adult coordinator of the Douglas High School Peer Court.
“Everyone with peer court is sad to see Greg move on, but I’m glad he’s going to impact a much larger group of students in the district,” said counselor Mike Caughlan, who also works with peer court. “He’s a big kid himself and he just has such a soft and humorous approach to being a liaison to the police. It’s so important students see the human side of policemen. Their experience will allow them to approach other police with less fear and apprehension. He’s so personable and he remembers their names. That’s one of the most important things to a kid, to be recognized.”
Shields said he simply was providing good service, like what would be expected from any business.
“You give the kids a little bit of respect and they give you a lot back,” Shields said. “What we’ve established over there, we just want to continue in a positive way.”
Sgt. Stan Lamb said many people applied for the job, but the talk in the station house was that Shields simply deserved the job.
“Many people said Greg is the one who earned this and deserves this,” Lamb said.
“He has shown a lot of interest and put in a lot of his own time. I know he has not clocked in all the time he spent on campus. He’s done a great job,” said Sheriff Ron Pierini.
The job was made available when the department received a Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing grant for $125,000 over three years. The school district has committed to paying half of Shields’ salary for those three years and picking up the tab when the grant money runs out.
Shields, who has been married to Jeri for over 20 years, has a son, Troy, 10, who attends Pinon Hills Elementary School. He has been an active member of the Community Action Team, which organized the peer court and sought out grants to fund it.
This month, he will begin two-day internships with departments who have school resource officers – South Lake Tahoe Police Department, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Carson City Sheriff’s Office and Sparks Police Department.
Within six months, Shields is expected to spend a week at the National Association of School Resource Officer training program in Chico, Calif. The program is 40 hours long and once he completes it, Shields will be a certified school resource officer.
Shields said once he is on the job, he expects to start work by monitoring traffic outside the school during the morning and again at lunch. During breaks when students aren’t allowed off campus, he will mingle with the students in the common areas. His main concerns will be handling any student safety or campus security issues and investigating crimes reported on campus and off-campus which involve students. When there is a question about law enforcement and community issues, Shields will take on the job of educator.
Shields said it is not unusual that deputies are called to DHS two or three times a day and those calls take more time because there are usually many witnesses and parents have to be called in. Having an officer on campus will free up patrol deputies to answer other calls, Pierini said.
Shields will not only work at Douglas High School, but can be called to other schools when there is a problem, Pierini said. He has already been spending more time at Whittell High School during the past three weeks, he said, attempting to help with bullying and intimidation problems.
The school safety intervention team, which is a group of officers who complete investigations related to the schools, will continue in that position, Lamb said. Shields will be able to refer problems to the team, which is paid from the same Justice Department grant which funds peer court.
Deputy Teresa Duffy, who originally was going to coordinate the peer court, left the position when she took time off to have a baby. She has worked with the intervention team at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School and will again be in charge of the peer court.
“Teresa has fit into (Greg’s) shoes nicely,” Caughlan said. “She presided Monday and didn’t miss a beat. We only have so much time and she kept us on task and got the objective accomplished and did it in a way that doesn’t offend people, which is a good talent to have.”
Duffy is married to DCSO Deputy Joe Duffy. She was a founding member of the Community Action Team and is a member of the Crisis Negotiation Team.
The next Community Action Team meeting will be held at Whittell High School Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. to discuss starting peer court at Whittell.