By Carolyn Marnon – As the bell rings and students, teachers and administrators make their ways through the halls of Wayne Memorial High School, there is a new face that melts into the crowd. Jordan Arndt is back in high school, although he’s dressing differently than he did before, and he isn’t required to do any homework. He’s Officer Arndt, and he’s the new School Resource Officer (SRO) at WMHS.
Roaming the hallways before and after school, during lunches as well as during passing times, he makes his presence known to the students. During the times when he is in his first-floor office, he leaves his door open, signaling to students that he is always accessible to them.
After graduating from high school, Jordan joined the Army National Guard. He attended Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia in June 2008 and then was able to attend Eastern Michigan University while he served in the National Guard as an infantryman. He had one deployment to Afghanistan in 2011, and graduated from EMU with a bachelors degree in Criminal Justice.
WMHS has not had an SRO for the last five years due to the short-staffing in the police department. Officers were frequently being dispatched to the high school for incidents, so a recent 3-year agreement between the Wayne Police Department and Wayne Westland Community Schools to assign an SRO will make day-to-day operations smoother for the police department. Officer Arndt will be able to interact with and mentor students on a day-to-day basis, and the school district will pay for approximately one-half of the officer’s compensation during the school year. During the summer and school breaks, Officer Arndt will be assigned to the Investigations Bureau at the department.
Why did he decide to pursue criminal justice and law enforcement? Officer Arndt laughs and says his answer is a bit corny. He gives credit to “the butterfly effect,” whereby some tiny change in one area can have large effects somewhere else. He likes to think his small military role in Afghanistan will have a wider effect on the nation such that others won’t have to go there. He also likes to think that his work in Wayne’s neighborhoods will be a ripple that has far-reaching effects one day.
“Everyone here at the police department is pleased to have an officer back at Wayne Memorial High School. Having an officer at the school helps keep students and staff safe. The officer will also build solid relationships with those students and staff. Prior School Resource Officers were able to mentor young people and show them that police officers are here to help. I am confident that Officer Arndt will do the same,” expressed Wayne Police Chief Ryan Strong.
Officer Arndt was chosen as SRO from those at the police department who submitted a letter of interest for the position. Once chosen, he attended a week-long training from the National Association of School Resource Officers in Indiana. NASRO believes in a triad concept which trains the SRO as Educator, Informal Counselor and Law Enforcement Officer. Their goal is to facilitate safe learning environments, provide valuable resources to school staff, foster positive relationships with students, and developing strategies to resolve problems.
“Wayne is actually a good school,” says Officer Arndt. Most of the issues he’s called on to resolve involve the occasional fight, cigarettes and marijuana. He says he’s not at the school to get the students in trouble. He’s there to keep them safe. He sees himself more as a counselor that students can visit to get help rather than going to the school administration. A visit to him is an easy solution for a student who is going through something at home and needs help or advice without getting the police department involved. Officer Arndt wants to be personable to the students and never give the impression of negativity while he is in uniform. “I’m a person no better or worse than you,” is what he wants to evoke in his role.
Since he stepped into the hallowed high school halls on October 28, he is grateful for the hellos, the smiles, and being treated like one of the staff. He wouldn’t mind being a Champions mentor for a student who wants the help. He says he has already had students approach him asking about law enforcement careers and what is involved in pursing that line of work.
This family man (he has a wife, a young child, a pitbull named Jade and a beagle/basset mix named Gus) who grew up in Canton likes to hang out with his family when he’s not working. His daughter is discovering snow and the joys of picking it up and throwing it at her parents.
“I’m not there to get the students in trouble. I want to be seen as a mentor, counselor, someone they can go to,” Officer Arndt concludes.
“I am excited to strengthen the working partnership between Wayne Memorial High School and the Wayne Police Department,” enthused WMHS Principal James Anderson, Ed. D. “Officer Arndt is a dedicated individual who will help create positive connections with our students. We are already off to a great start and love having him in the halls each day. Myself, and all of the staff at Wayne, look forward to working with him.”