One month after being promoted to school liaison and youth coordinator at the Great Bend Police Department, Officer Jefferson Davis says the department’s partnership with local schools is as strong as ever.
Davis joined the GBPD nine years ago. In March he took over the job formerly held by Officer Mark Bretches, who has moved to Wichita. Suzie Gunther continues to serve as his assistant, Davis said.
“We’re still running the same programs,” he said. Those include Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) class for all of Great Bend Unified School District 428’s fifth grade students as well as at the Central Kansas Christian Academy; America’s Promise, for third and fourth graders; I Make a Difference, at all of the grade schools; the Youth Forum with high school students at the Alternative Learning Center; and the City’s Youth Academy for middle school students. Youth Academy has been so popular, there’s also an Adult Academy, Police Chief Dean Akings said.
Davis came to Great Bend from Bourbon County, where he worked at the jail. In 2002 he completed an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice at Barton Community College.
Chief Akings said five of his officers applied for the school liaison officer/youth coordinator position after Bretches left. “They were all qualified,” he said.
The salary for this full-time position is split between the GBPD’s budget and USD 428. All of the candidates were interviewed by a panel that included Akings, Assistant Superintendent Dan Brungardt, Great Bend Human Resources Director Terry Hoff, and Lt. Jan McCloud from the Newton Police Department. “(McCloud) was also a school resource officer, school liaison officer and DARE officer at one time,” Akings said.
“It was the interview board’s unanimous decision to pick Officer Davis for this position,” Akings said.
Davis stood out because of the work he’s already done as one of the GBPD DARE officers. Four years ago he attended and graduated from the two-week DARE school at Salina.
“Not everyone graduates,” Akings said. “Eight to 10 mentors observe your classroom skills,” in an actual classroom setting. After the graduation, the sponsors at Salina were so impressed with his skills that they asked Akings if Davis could return as a sponsor and a mentor in future DARE schools.
Akings said his DARE officers receive grades from the school teachers and their principals. “We’ve had nothing but A-pluses,” he said. “They’re glad to give up an hour’s time each week.
“This is one of the most important positions for the police department, because we get to have some positive interaction with the public,” the chief said. “This is one of the fun parts of law enforcement.”