A new, masked face is now roaming the halls of PCM. School Resource Officer Adam Choat started his patrol in the district Oct. 1, a part of a partnership between the City of Monroe and the school.
“It has been a long process. It is something I had brought up several years ago with former superintendent Brad Jermeland,” Monroe Police Chief Nick Chambers said. “Essentially, what kind of helped it come together was the initial discussion, then I applied for the SRO grant, which we were awarded. That was more than $114,000 that will be applied toward the SRO. It is a four year initial contract which I think, if it is a positive experience, which I believe it is going to be, it’ll be, hopefully, continued and make it a permanent thing.”
A Nevada, Ames area native, Choat previously worked at the Pleasant Hill PD, completing his final four years as the SRO at the Southeast Polk High School. From there, he moved on to help create the Iowa State Fair Police Force where he served until coming to PCM.
“I did patrol, detectives, media, PIO and the SRO the last four years. I really enjoyed that experience,” Choat said. “In January of 2018, I had the opportunity to help start the new Iowa State Fair Police Force, so I left the city and went over there. It was fun to get that up off the ground. They are up and running and it has been a good experience.”
Having kept in contact with Chambers since working part-time in Monroe years earlier, he knew the community was looking to fill the SRO position. After initially looking to help with the search, he looked at from the angle of taking the position himself.
“Talking with Chief Chambers, him and I have known each other for more than decade and he talked to me about this SRO opportunity and it kind of went from ‘haha’ or ‘OK,’” Choat said. “I was actually trying to find someone for the position then next thing I know we started having the discussion on how about I do it, so here I am.”
Choat has worked in a variety of communities, from 10,000 plus people to less than 1,000. Having worked part-time in Monroe he is already familiar with the towns and feels it will be an easy career transition.
“I had a great experience from 2014 on in a larger metro school so I think this will be nothing but a good experience for this community,” Choat said.
During his time at Southeast Polk, Choat enjoyed getting to know the students at a younger age and then seeing them come up through high school and later as adult members of the community. While it was not always easy, the work was definitely rewarding.
“Working the street, when you deal with adults, they are people that already have a preconceived thought process of people in law enforcement and society works,” Choat said. “When I went to the school, I found that it was a challenge that I embraced in a non-traditional approach to police work. I was able to build relationships with the youth who were going to be coming into the work and you want to have a positive experience with law enforcement and you want to make it a positive experience for them.”
He feels that is especially important in the current climate our country is in. He wants students to know how to interact with police officers and that they are people with families, too.
“They aren’t synchronized robots that are out to get you,” Choat said.
Like in most positions, challenges arose for Choat as he worked both with the school and the city. He found being transparent with all entities the best practice for success.
“Often times there was a different expectations between the city and the school so just trying to keep the separation there,” Choat said. “I was able to figure out a program that works and I found that transparency and communication was the key and I tried to keep the open communication with the school board and administration and thepolice administration and it worked out well.”
At PCM, he plans to spend equal time among the four buildings, crafting a schedule that works to serve each school when it is needed most. He will spend is morning and afternoon at the high school helping to patrol the streets and parking lot as students arrive and leave for the day.
“That is important, the traffic safety side of it,” Choat said. “It’ll be interesting building a routine and rapport and figuring out what times there is more of need, if there is.”
PCM Athletic Director Greg Bonnett said he excited for Choat to join the district.
“I think it is going to be a sense of security in some of our student population that wouldn’t otherwise have it. I think that is one of the most important things,” Bonnett said. “I also think it will be a good deal to have an SRO presence while high school kids are pulling in and out of our driveways and parking lots. I think it will be a neat amenity and it’ll take care of a lot of the safety issues that in modern day schools need to be addressed.”
Mostly, Choat hopes for a great experience for everyone as he starts his time at PCM. He learned just how much of an impact he had on students he worked still today, when seeing them out in the community.
“After I got out of the school environment, the kids that I still come in contact with and would remember you and would approach you and still want to say ‘hi,’” Choat said. “It happened just recently when I was out to dinner with my wife, a waitress comes by and says Officer Choat and it was a girl that I had multiple dealing with and I was there when her mom died but she knew me, I was familiar and I was a good experience for her and now she is an adult. That is what was most rewarding for me.”
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or email@example.com