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The Central School District is getting another school resource officer (SRO) to lighten the workload for the officer in place currently.

A school resource officer, by federal definition, is a career law enforcement officer with sworn authority who is deployed by a police department or agency in a community-oriented policing assignment to work in collaboration with one or more schools.

Officer Andrew Rieger has been hired to split the SRO duties with current SRO Summer Bentley at all the schools within the district, and will begin work on March 8.

Rieger was raised in Park Hills and attended Central schools for the majority of his academic career, graduating from the high school in 2007. He then attended the Law Enforcement Academy at Mineral Area College and graduated in 2011. Shortly after graduating from the academy, Rieger went to work for the Park Hills Police Department as a part-time patrol officer and the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department as a full-time deputy.

“He’s going to be a fantastic addition to the department ... and the school is going to be lucky to have him," Park Hills Police Chief Richard McFarland said.

McFarland explained that since Rieger has already worked for the department, everyone there already has a good working relationship with him.

The duties of his new position, however, are a bit different and primarily include ensuring the safety of staff and students. The duties also include crime prevention, handling investigations, and training faculty and students in various public safety subjects.

“I’m focused on building trust and being a positive role model," Rieger explained, "... as well as being a counselor and mentor for the students. One of my main priorities is to establish a type of rapport with students where they feel comfortable approaching me with any concerns or conflicts. I’m also looking forward to establishing a solid working relationship with school administrators and faculty.”

“I feel like I’m coming home,” Rieger said. “I’ve been in the Central school system as a student growing up in Park Hills and it just feels like home here.”

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Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3628, or at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com.

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