Sparta district gains additional police presense in schools

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:14

    Sparta-The Sparta Police Department now has an official Student Resource Officer (SRO) for township schools. The full-time nationally recognized position is being filled by Corporal Joseph Drossel, a 16 year veteran of the Sparta PD and former Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) instructor. As the first and only SRO in the township, Drossel will serve as a frequent visitor of both the Sparta High and Middle schools, as well as the Sussex Technical School. Among his duties, the veteran officer will investigate crimes that occur within the school or on school property, serve as a positive role model and build links between law enforcement and the students. He will also be a resource for parents, staff, administration, and students in regards to law enforcement and community problems. "I grew up with a high respect for police officers, but when you are young, they can kind of seem stand-offish," said Drossel last week. "Through programs like SRO and D.A.R.E., we are able to let the students know that we are there for them." Unlike his former position as a D.A.R.E. instructor, Drossel said that the goal of a SRO is not to teach. In addition to maintaining a high profile in the school, he will be working hand in hand with the principals of the three schools in crime prevention, as well as finding solutions to the prevalent problems that affect today's school-age children. Filling Drossel's shoes as a D.A.R.E. instructor will be 15-year veteran to the Sparta Police Department Corporal Susan Jespersen. In September, she will begin the year round program at both the Mohawk Avenue and Reverend Brown schools that teaches young people ways to avoid drugs and alcohol. "I'm excited about doing the program. D.A.R.E. can often times serve as a great turning point for students," said Jespersen. "I realize that many of them don't feel this way because of summer vacation, but I can't wait for September to come." According to Drossel, Jespersen will serve as an ideal D.A.R.E. officer, because she is "high energy" which he said is required in order to teach the program proficiently. He added that in many ways, he feels that she will prove to be a better instructor. "He will be a tough act to follow," said Jespersen about Drossel. The police department is now able to offer the SRO program because of the recent hiring of rookie officers who will replace Jespersen on the road. "Doing D.A.R.E. is fun, and I will probably miss it," said Drossel. "At the same time, I look forward to being at the high school." "Many of the same students will remember me from their D.A.R.E. program in the 5th grade."