Salute the Badge: Jackson County SRO puts rhythm into school safety

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Jackson County School Resource Officer, John Calvert, is not your average police man.

“I am that goofy person,” said Calvert. “I love my job because I get to be a kid every single day.”

“My rap name is blue light special,” said Calvert. “You can search it on YouTube at SRO Calvert."

He’ll make a rap video, play tuba in the pep band or groove along with the Royal Valley dance team, all to break down the wall between kids and law enforcement.

“He kind of has an unconventional approach,” said Jackson County Sheriff, Tim Morse. “He has a way of building those relationships and you'll see him interact with the children where he walks into a classroom and into a school and everyone lights up.”

Calvert began his career in law enforcement with the Potawatomi Tribal Police Department and later became an SRO with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

“You know not every law enforcement officer would make a good SRO,” said Sheriff Morse. “You have to have those abilities and those gifts and Deputy Calvert certainly has those gifts.”

He wants to make every kid feel special, which he says starts when they walk through the door.

“I try to greet the kids every day especially in our high schools, in our elementary schools with high fives, letting them know that I'm really excited that they're here,” Calvert said.

During his five years as an SRO he’s taught gang resistance education and drug training programs to fourth and sixth graders. He also spent last year promoting school zone safety.

“My job is not to arrest people,” said Calvert. “In my mind my job is to protect our kids, to protect our staff, to protect our community”
This year his goal is to reduce school absenteeism.

“Studies have shown that of the kids that end up in our juvenile justice system, which is a horrible, horrible thing to do,” said Calvert. “But of those kids, 75% of them, were at one point or are chronically absent, missing that 10 percent or more of school.”

He hopes to stop this trend by building lasting relationships with students.

“Hopefully in his mind the kid thinks, ‘man Officer John knew I was gone.’ So when he sits at home and he doesn't feel good and doesn't want to come to school, he says but Officer John will know if I’m not there,” Calvert said.

He says the best reward is a student's success.

“If one kid says I’m not going to graduate but Officer John makes Royal Valley safe, makes the school safe or I have problems so I can go to Officer John and comes to school and gets the grades and graduates, there's no money in the world that would take that away,” Calver said.

Whether it’s a good day or a bad day, Calvert says it’s a great day to be a panther.