Kenowa Hills — Deputy Emily Bishop has one rule when students visit her office: If they take a piece of Laffy Taffy from the jar on her desk, they have to read the jokes on the inside of the wrapper to make her laugh.
Bishop wears many hats as Kenowa Hills’ new School Resource Officer.
Her job entails three major purposes according to the National Association of School Resource Officers, she notes – law enforcement, education and counseling and mentoring.
With her home base office at the high school, Bishop travels to middle and elementary schools as needed. She also encourages students to visit her office if they need someone to talk to about their lives.
“We are police officers, but we also are trained to give presentations on topics based on school needs,” Bishop said. “And students can come to my office if they need five minutes to decompress during the day.”
Prior to starting her new position in January, Bishop served the Kent County Sheriff’s Office for four years.
‘When I was on road patrol and when I dealt with people, it was to be the bad guy. With students, I don’t always have to be the bad guy and they don’t always need me.’– School Resource Officer Emily Bishop
Born and raised in Indiana, Bishop moved to Michigan to pursue her degree in criminal justice from Ferris State University.
“Halfway through college, I knew I wanted to do criminal justice,” Bishop said. “I had a lot of professors who were cops and I thought, What a good way to help people at their lowest.”
After graduation, she went to the Michigan State Police Training Academy. Halfway through her training, Kent County offered her a job.
Working in schools, she is learning how to not “be on” all of the time.
“I worked the night shift from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. when I was on road patrol and when I dealt with people, it was to be the bad guy,” Bishop said. “With students, I don’t always have to be the bad guy and they don’t always need me. That is a learning process.”
‘I’m Here to Help’
As she continues to transition into her new role, Bishop hopes to build relationships with students over the years and help “keep them out of the criminal justice system.”
“I’m here to get to know students and actually make a difference in their lives,” she said. “By the time they get out of school, they will know more about police officers, what services they can offer and that there are good police officers out there.”
Bishop’s role is also important for maintaining school safety.
She added: “We’re going to take care of things now and keep kids out of my police reports later.”
Bishop feels being a female officer in a school district is beneficial for those students more comfortable confiding in a female authority versus the “older male officer.”
“As females we tend to be more empathetic and comforting when students have uncomfortable things they need to talk about,” Bishop said.
She added: “I feel like people really respect me and feel really blessed because I know not all women get this experience.”
Upon reaching the end of her work day, Bishop returned home to husband and fellow police officer, Dan, and her two young step-children, who she said are both “entertaining and exhausting.”