The Dickinson Police Department's Student Resource Officer program is seeing an increase of incidents with each school year.
DPD Chief Dustin Dassinger and Sgt. Brandon Stockie reported to City Commissioners Tuesday on the success of the program based in local schools.
"Our SRO program is something we're continually looking on expanding and making better," Dassinger said. "Right now we have an excellent relationship with the Dickinson Public School District."
Stockie and Officer Tiffany Whinery are the DPD's two SRO officers, with Stockie serving full-time at Dickinson High School, Whinery at Dickinson Middle School, and elementary schools divided evenly between them.
Stockie reported on statistics and trends for the 2018-2019 school year.
"Last year, we dealt with over 400 instances in our schools," he said.
An "instance" is any time a school administrator, teacher, student or parent called upon an SRO or the DPD for assistance, Stockie explained.
Last school year, 119 calls for service were received from DHS, 102 from DMS, 140 from the seven elementary schools, and four from Southwest Community High School.
Some calls resulted in citations in juvenile court.
The majority of instances were for tobacco, specifically vaping, with 70 citations issued.
"Vapes became a big trend a couple of years ago and it continues to go up every year, using in school and out of school," Stockie said.
Asked how students were getting access to tobacco and vaping products, Stockie said the DPD runs compliance checks through Southwest District Health.
"I did one of these Friday, during the day," he said. "With that we had a juvenile 16-year-old volunteer who comes in to do those buys. Four of our retailers failed that."
Stockie also suggested some adults were supplying it, and said the products can be purchased online and delivered directly to homes.
There were also 25 disorderly conduct citations, 22 unruly behavior citations, 13 drug offense citations, mostly marijuana, and nine assault citations.
"An unruly juvenile is a crime only a juvenile can commit," Stockie said. "If a juvenile disrupts educations, yells in the classroom and throws books, that can be classified as an unruly act."
A rising concern, as well, is mental health issues at younger ages in elementary schools.
Calls for service increased from the 2017-2018 school year.
From Dickinson High, the DPD had 134 calls in 2017 and 196 calls in 2018.
At DMS, they had 92 calls in 2017 and 102 in 2018, and from the elementary schools they had 139 calls in 2017 and 140 calls in 2018.
SROs do more than response to incidences, Stockie told commissioners.
Among their efforts, SROs do bicycle safety, ALICE (Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate) live-shooter training, career fairs, and presentations of sexting, drugs and alcohol.
The Adopt-A-Cop program has officers visit elementary schools to play with students on the playground or join them at lunch.
The DPD also provides the DARE program to seventh graders.
"There's three of us last year who are trained DARE officers," Stockie said. "This summer we sent two more officers to DARE school, so we'll have five total trained DARE officers, and with that we're picking up all fifth graders."
Last year, 287 students graduated from the DARE program.