DARIEN, Conn. – Students and visitors to Darien High School should not be surprised to see a police officer roaming the halls of the school. Officer James Palmieri has been placed in the school to help build the relationship between students and police.
Palmieri is Darien’s first School Resource Officer, a position that school administrators and police personnel created to help students understand the role of law enforcement.
“Being a police officer, you often deal with people under the worst circumstances,” Palmieri said. “This is a way for me to show students and faculty that dealing with the police is not just a negative thing. It allows me to interact with them in a more positive way.”
During the first week of school Palmieri has been working to dispel any apprehension students may have about having a police officer around. He has made himself a presence in the lunchroom and hallways, and started working toward getting to know the students. He has also sat in on a couple of classes, and in one class was able to answer some questions the students had about the recent Empire State Building shooting.
Palmieri is armed and is also there to provide additional security in the event of an emergency, but said his main role is to be a resource for the students.
“I’m not here to make arrests or investigate crimes,” he said. Those duties will continue to be handled by Darien’s youth officers. Palmieri is around for students to talk to if they are concerned about something or need guidance.
“A lot of the times there may be parties over the weekend and the police show up," he said. "Kids may have questions about what happened, so they can come ask me.”
Palmieri will make himself available to parents who may have questions or concerns. He will be part of the Student Assistance Team, which helps students who have issues outside of school that are affecting their schoolwork.