In his new role with the Mount Airy Police Department, Officer Garrett Chamberlain will be returning to some old stomping grounds.
Chamberlain, a four-year veteran of the police department, has been named the next resource officer (SRO) for Mount Airy Middle School — a place with which he is quite familiar. When that campus opened for business in the late 1990s to students in grades 6-8, Chamberlain, who is now 29 and grew up in the city, was among its first batch of pupils.
He once again will roam the Mount Airy Middle School hallways when the new academic term opens later this month, and as resource officer Chamberlain’s assignments won’t include grammar or math — but providing security and safety for students and educational personnel.
Beyond that basic goal, a school resource officer also supplies a unique function by serving as a liaison between students, faculty members and administrators, which can include both investigating on-campus crime or spearheading activities to prevent such incidents.
Perhaps more importantly, Chamberlain also is looking forward to being a friend and a mentor to students, a source of early intervention especially to kids who are at risk.
Becoming a school resource officer involves a natural transition for Chamberlain, who already is involved in activities involving local young people, including volunteering with a youth football league for the past four years.
Chamberlain joined the Mount Airy Police Department in August 2012, and has served in the patrol division. Yet a shift to school resource officer and the community services unit that encompasses the city’s SRO program never seemed far away, according to Chief Dale Watson.
“I think from the beginning of his career, that has been a goal of his,” Watson said Tuesday when Chamberlain’s appointment was disclosed.
He will be replacing Stacy Inman as the middle school SRO, due to Inman recently moving to another area of the community policing unit which involves bicycle patrols. Inman’s switch came after the retirement earlier this year of Officer Ray Arnder, a veteran bike patrol member.
Other personnel in the community police division include Officer Gerald Daniel and James Simmons, the school resource officer assigned to Mount Airy High.
Chamberlain is looking forward to heading back to his old school. “I’m excited,” he said of the fresh start the new position represents and the opportunity to “go back and see how much things have changed.”
He hopes to extend his present work as a role-model and mentor with local youth to those attending the middle school on Hamburg Street.
“Hopefully, I’ll be a minor influence in their lives” at least, he said modestly.
“I think he’ll do a tremendous job — I really do,” Chief Watson said.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.