HELENA — Townsend schools recently welcomed a School Resource Officer from the Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office.
Nick Rauser, Broadwater County Sheriff, began walking the halls of Townsend schools back in 2022 when he would drop his kids off at school. After speaking with administrators and teachers, Rauser decided it might be time to reintroduce an SRO to the grounds. The last time an SRO was assigned to Townsend School District was in the 2000s.
“I started to see, just me walking through for an hour in the morning, the relationships I was building. So, I, when I ran for Sheriff, I said, I was, one of my goals was to make sure that we got an SRO in the school,” says Rauser.
Townsend’s newest School Resource Officer, Tony Cordova, officially began patrolling the hallways of the elementary, junior, and high schools at the beginning of January. Primarily funded by the Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office, Cordova says he’s using these first few weeks to get acclimated to the schools. Working for the Sheriff’s Department, he’s seen first-hand the cycle some folks can get in and he hopes to help stop that before it even begins.
“...been doing police work for eight years and it's just a revolving door of them coming in and out of the jail. So, I wanna, before they can get to that point, I want to kind of show them what's going to happen if they continue down this path,” says Cordova.
Susie Hedalen, Superintendent for Townsend School District, says that the school district is focused on threat assessment and prevention. Some of this includes keeping an eye out for telltale signs of danger and holding such classes for vaping abuse, social media use, and suicide prevention.
“We're really focused on threat assessment now in school safety. So, we're doing things to prevent any issues and we're monitoring, you know, anything that could be of concern and trying to be proactive rather than reactive,” says Hedalen.
Cordova says that he hopes to utilize relationships and education to help students enter into more healthy lifestyles.
“But I think citation where they're either gonna just pay money and do community service isn't the correct answer all the time. And it's probably not gonna help build a relationship or a bond between us. So, I want to implement more of like a class that they're gonna have to sit in with and just see the outcome, you know, of vaping or tobacco use or drug use,” says Cordova.