LIMA — Matt Taylor serves as the school resource officer at North Middle School, a position he has held for most of this school year. He spends his days walking the halls, talking to students, helping in classrooms, shooting basketball with kids and helping them when they need someone to talk to.
Taylor, less than 10 years removed from high school with a young face, already has made a difference among the students, who no longer see the uniform first. One of those is Laikyn Wheeler, a sixth-grader.
“He’s fun. He helps with your problems and he’s a good officer,” Wheeler said. “He’s a good friend. He’s like a teacher.”
Wheeler said she eats lunch with Taylor, colors in his office and plays basketball or soccer with him.
Taylor said that allows the children to see him as a person first.
“More and more, there are more who want to come talk to me,” Taylor said. “You wear the uniform, but you have to put it to the side and let them see more than the uniform.”
Kameron Dewberry, another sixth-grader, said he sees Taylor as a friend, similar to other students. He said he can talk to Taylor and turn to him when needed even if it’s for a listening ear.
Taylor said his efforts will help the relationship between children and officers on the street. Children will be less likely to fear police and hopefully know they can turn to them, if needed.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.