New SRO for new school year

Jamie Zega and lakecentralnews

In light of the Sandy Hook shootings, Virginia Tech and even Columbine, school safety has become more and more of a priority in school districts everywhere.

Thanks to a partial school safety grant from the state and a partnership among St. John, Schererville, Dyer and the Lake Central School Corporation, LCHS was able to hire a new school resource officer for the 2013-2014 school year.

St. John Police Officer Brett Sidenbender was hired to serve as Lake Central’s full-time Student Resource Officer (SRO) after doing part-time security at the school since 2002. Sidenbender will work with School Security Director Sergeant Fred Stamate to ensure that Lake Central is a safe place.

“During the school year, my primary assignment is Lake Central High School. I also serve on the Lake County DUI Task Force and I’m also a Field Evidence Technician for crime scenes,” Sidenbender said. “Prior to this assignment, I was assigned the patrol division, SWAT team and drug interdiction unit. I also serve as an instructor on the training staff of our department, specializing in the area of active-shooter response classes and other tactical training areas.”

In his 16th year with the St. John Police Department, Sidenbender is looking forward to spending his time at his home school.

“I’m a graduate of Lake Central High School and I grew up in the Tri-Town. I was very excited when the position became available and feel that I can relate with many of the students, having spent four years here as a student myself,” Sidenbender said.

Sidenbender is also a certified SRO through the National School Resource Officer Association. Later this year, he will be attending training from the Indiana Department of Education to become a certified school safety specialist. Despite his extensive prior knowledge, the training through the state will only add to Sidenbender’s abilities to keep Lake Central safe.

“If I had a child that was attending Lake Central as a student right now, I’d have no concerns about their personal safety. There’s numerous staff members in the building at all times, and if assistance is needed, we have highly-trained police officers in the surrounding agencies who would respond, and many of them, I’ve trained myself for just such an event,” Sidenbender said.

The extra security is not only a perk to the students, but administrators as well.

“I am absolutely delighted. I am excited that we have an additional resource to ensure the safety of this building and its occupants, as well as an educational resource for faculty and students,” Mr. Robin Tobias, Principal, said.

One goal that Sidenbender has established for this school year is to build relationships with students and staff. Sidenbender encourages anyone with any questions or concerns to feel free to talk to him. In addition to serving as an educational resource about the law, Sidenbender can answer any questions students have about pursuing a career in public safety.

“I’m very excited to be joining this school year. I’m looking forward to meeting the students and staff and providing a safe educational environment for everyone here at Lake Central. I’d ask that the students and the staff feel free to visit my office anytime, just even to say hello, just so I get to know who you are. If anyone needs any assistance, please let me know and I’ll do the best I can,” Sidenbender said.