A candidate has been found to fill the new school resource officer position in the Highland School District.
"We are very excited about Chris Flake being the new SRO," said Superintendent Mike Sutton.
Flake, who has been with the Highland Police Department for about 10 years, will start on as the school district's full-time resource officer at the beginning of next school year.
The Highland School Board authorized the district to hire a school resource officer in March. The decision was made after several months of deliberation by the board brought on by some school safety issues.
Since the position's approval, Sutton said that the district has worked alongside Highland Police Chief Terry Bell and Lt. Chris Conrad to identify the best fit for the position. Flake was chosen out of the officers who expressed interest.
Bell said that Flake has been exemplary in service in his role as a patrol officer. Flake became an investigator in April 2014, and since that time, he has been assigned as the lead detective in numerous felony cases.
"He has great communication skills and had a heart to serve this community," Bell said.
Over the past year, Flake moved back to patrol, but he said he felt "drawn" to the SRO position when it became available.
"It’s a big responsibility — the safety of the school, students and teachers. That kind of draws me to it," Flake said.
Flake has also helped the department to build relationships within the community, between other police departments and with the Madison County State Attorney's Office, according to Bell.
Flake was also named the David McCain Memorial Officer of the Year for the second time last year.
"We are excited about his potential to serve in this role," Bell said.
In preparation, Flake has already hit the ground running.
"Chris is already making plans to familiarize himself with the buildings and staff prior to the start of the new school year," Sutton said.
Though it is a long road before school starts in August, Flake said he is looking forward to the challenges of becoming acquainted with his new position.
Flake said he plans to move into his new school office in July. But before that time, he must go through various training courses.
Flake recently attended a week-long course where he passed the certification test to become a school resource officer.
Flake also recently received some hands-on training and spent two days shadowing a school resource officer at Rantoul Township High School. He said this was very beneficial, because he got to see what his duties will be like on a day-to-day basis, as well as observe interactions with the students.
"I was able to pick his brain on many different situations. So that was very helpful. I gained a lot of knowledge shadowing him for the last two days," Flake said. "That was very beneficial because it showed me the duties he had on a day to day basis."
In June, Flake will travel to Nevada for the three-day National Association of School Resource Officers Conference. Then in July, Flake will earn his certification in active shooter/killer training, which will also allow him to train district employees for active killer scenarios.
On top of furthering his law enforcement experience, Flake said he is looking forward to becoming a mentor to the students and building new relationships with them is one of the highlights of the job. In the future, he said he plans to take on some more advanced courses to help further his effectiveness in the position.
"I’m actually really, really excited," Flake said.