Next up in our School Resource Officer Spotlight series, The District Attorney’s Office is proud to recognize SRO David Ruiz, who works alongside the students and staff at Hand Middle School in the School District of Lancaster.
A School Resource Officer is a law-enforcement officer based in a school district to provide assistance with crime prevention and security. Many school districts across the county have SROs working at them, and today we’d like to acknowledge Officer Ruiz’s 17 years of service!
What is a typical day like for you?
To be honest, there is NO typical day in police/SRO work. Every day is unique, that's one of the reasons I love this division: You never know what’s around the corner. But, if I were to try and describe it… checking my school and police department’s emails to start off the day is important, gets me up to speed on the day’s current events. Walk-throughs are also part of my day, inspecting the property both inside and outside of the school for safety reasons. This also allows me (and this is a priority) to meet and greet the students and staff, to let them know I’m in the area and available, even if it’s simply to chat about a movie or a sporting event. It could be anything, it’s all about building rapport
It doesn't have to be about policing, that's the beauty of this job, ultimately it’s about "US" and what we as people are all about, helping each other to succeed in school and in life.
What accomplishments/programs are you most proud of during your time as an SRO?
For accomplishments, I have to say refining my instructional talking skills when speaking in front of a classroom filled with students. When I first took on the position as an SRO, I didn’t realize the amount of time and skill required to properly speak to and teach our students, whether the talks were about the law or other non-legal topics. So, in order to become more proficient in this area I decided to spend more time observing our teachers, and their techniques and methods. This turned out to be a very powerful way to gain a grasp on how to better approach and interact with our students in the classroom.
As for what programs I’m most proud of? Hands down it’s our in-school Advantage Lancaster (AL) educational mentorship program. It was founded in 2002 by our School District of Lancaster teachers Ty Bair and Shayne D. Meadows. AL's mission has helped students, primarily from South East Lancaster, with unique, real-life opportunities for students that have prepared them with a "winning life plan” and I am grateful that I have been allowed to come into this program and share my experiences with them.
What is something you would like people to know about SROs?
That we as SROs are a resource to our respective schools: It says it right there in our title, School "RESOURCE" Officer. We’re NOT just an enforcer of the law, but a resource that can be tapped into at any given time to help out and assist our students, parents, teachers, staff and community as best we can. I want people to know we (SROs) are them, and we care and we are there for them every day all day, no matter what.
What do you like to do in your downtime?
I'm an artist by nature, so I love to draw and paint whenever I get the chance; it’s a great way to express myself to others as well as a way for me to relax during my off-duty time. I am also very fortunate to be a husband to a beautiful wife and father to seven wonderful children and 7 grandchildren, all of which take up a lot of my free time, and I mean that in a good way. So, with that said, going out to have dinner with the family, watching a good movie and vacationing together are all things that I enjoy doing with my family during my time off-duty. And last but not least, as a Christian, I love participating in anything that has to relate with our faith and church. It’s my source of strength and renewal.