Officer Patty Gonzalez is completing her first year as School Liaison Officer (S.L.O.) for our SIB K-8 Community School. She is the D.A.R.E. (drug abuse resistance education) instructor for all the classes in the D.A.R.E. program. She has established a respect and rapport between the students and herself that is admirable. She has also established a reputation of fairness, sensitivity, compassion, listening, but all without compromising respect and discipline. To say she is in her element would be an understatement as her enthusiasm for her job and position is noticeable and infectious. She “LOVES” what she does. And make no mistake, she had “huge” shoes to fill in the person of Officer Joe Alvarez who did the same job for 2 years and was extremely popular as well.
But the topic of this article is about how Officer Gonzalez has ‘Dared to be Different.’ She has taken instruction and education to another level. She asked me once about how I felt if she covered additional topics of safety and common sense for the students. I told her to “go for it.” So she took some basic values, basic precautions and shared them with her students, starting with the youngest and working her way up. Basics like saying “NO” and trusting your instincts and feelings. If it feels wrong then it probably is. She has educated them on seatbelt safety, refusing to assume that ALL parents are disciplined enough to insure that their children wear them 100% of the time. If we give citations out to the parents for violations, how can we assume that those same parents are insuring the safety of their children by strapping them in?
Educating students about using the “crosswalks” at intersections as opposed to the very dangerous jaywalking. Even in a school zone with reduced speeds and enforcement, you must use crosswalks for safety. She has taught children how to react and what to do if accosted or confronted by someone they do not know. Most importantly, always let someone know, preferably your parents, as to your destination and where you will be and if it changes tell them about the changes. Otherwise, we the police and they the parents have NO starting reference point to look for you in case something bad happens. And also, “HANDSOFF”! This is my body not someone else’s to abuse. Have self esteem and pride and feel good about yourself and your reputation.
These are all the “EXTRA’S” that Officer Patty has brought to the position and to the students. This has been an exciting year filled with challenges for her. But her style and enthusiasm and dedication allow her to “Dare to be Different…” And we at the police department are delighted that she is.