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UCPS chooses first School Resource Officer of the Year – Jim Kennedy

There were three finalists in the 2012 UCPS School Resource Officer of the Year competition. Pictured from left, Monroe Police Officer Monique Holt (D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T. Programs); Union County Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Kennedy (Parkwood High School); and Monroe Police Officer Willie Kilgo (Monroe Middle School). Kennedy took the title.

Union County Public Schools has chosen its first School Resource Officer of the Year – Parkwood High School Officer Jim Kennedy, a former New York City Police homicide detective.

Kennedy was chosen Friday (April 20, 2012) during a ceremony held at the UCPS Professional Development Center in Monroe. A 20-year veteran police officer with the New York Police Department, Kennedy spent the last 10 years as a homicide detective before coming to Union County.

“I’m really surprised,” he said after being chosen as the SRO of the Year. “I love Union County. I love law enforcement. It’s my passion. Law enforcement officers don’t make a lot of money, but it’s what you put into the job that makes you who you are,” he said.

“I want to thank all the people I work with,” Kennedy added. “They’re all deserving of this award. And to my beautiful wife, Denise, who has been my backbone. I thank you all very much.”

Six SROs were nominated for the award: Union County Sheriff’s Deputies Chad Evans (South Providence School); Jim Kennedy (Parkwood High School); and A.J. Wallace (Sun Valley High School); Monroe Police Officers Monique Holt (SRO in charge of D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T. programs); Willie Kilgo (Monroe Middle School); and Shawn Parler (Central Academy of Technology and Arts).

D.A.R.E. is an acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. G.R.E.A.T. stands for Gang Resistance Education and Training.

The SRO of the Year is based on points accumulated through a credentialing process and interviews. There are two different panels of judges who are part of the process. The selection process narrowed the number of nominees down to three: Evans, Holt and Kennedy.

Union County Sheriff’s Lt. William Thompson and Monroe Police Lt. T.J Goforth spoke about the six nominees prior to the winner being announced.

“Kennedy was one of the best homicide detectives in New York, and for him to want to come to Union County and teach kids is amazing,” Thompson said. “He’s a well-experienced officer and a great father. If you’re ever a victim of a crime, that’s who you want to follow up on your case. He’s like a pit bull. He solves the majority of his cases. And those kids at Parkwood love him.”

Prior to announcing the winner, UCPS Superintendent Dr. Ed Davis said that when parents send their children to school, they want two things: “for them to learn and to be safe. We take care of their learning and you help us take care of the safety. It’s a great partnership.”

Davis then spoke about the role of the SRO. “Not just anybody can be a school resource officer. The SRO has to not only be a good law enforcement officer, but he also has to have a good rapport with students. Not everyone can develop that kind of rapport. Being an SRO is a very honorable job and we are proud of all of the officers in our schools.”

Officer Kennedy will now compete for the North Carolina School Resource Officer of the Year title, to be chosen this summer.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Apr 20, 2012 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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