Chico, Calif. - "It's like a small town, you have 1,850 kids," said Officer Peter Durfee of the Chico Police Department, as we walk across the Chico High campus before school starts for the day.
He stops to chat with a few students on their way to class.
"You want to give me some love?" Durfee jokes warmly. "You having a good day?" The student nods and says 'hi' with a bright smile.
Durfee is about a month into the very big role he's taken on as the School Resource Officer for all of Chico High.
Previously a detective for the ChicoPolice Department, he says it's been a bit of an adjustment.
"Kids on campus use foul language a lot," Durfee said. "I think it's this age. They think it's cool. I have to put them in check."
What's surprised him so far has been the fast pace of the job.
"You're kind of patrolling?" I asked.
"I am but, it's really about getting to know kids, relationship building," Durfee said.
Competing with Snapchat and Instagram, he says sometimes it's tough to get through to students.
"When they're all on their phones, I like to interact with them. Sometimes I'll go stand right in the middle of them and start talking, just to get them to interact with me," Durfee said.
So far, it seems like he does have a good rapport with many of them.
"I did a debate project on armed teachers last year and this is something that came up - I think it's a security thing and I feel a bit safer now that we have an armed officer just in case anything happens," said one student.
"And I liked seeing him come to our classes," said another student.
"I introduced myself so they know that I'm just a normal person just like there parents," Durfee said.
Durfee wants to do away with that fear that a lot of students have of law enforcement.
"We don't have bad kids, we have kids that make bad choices because they're kids and they're going to do that until they're caught," Durfee said. "And sometimes that teaching method is a suspension, or if it's criminal they have to deal with me."
But he's a real-life policeman, and school resource officers are becoming the norm these days.
The shooting last February in Parkland Florida was the 17th school shooting in the U.S. within the first 45 days of 2018.
"We didn't have cops on campus 25 years ago, but we didn't any of these really bad incidents 25 years ago either," Durfee said. "I want kids to come to school and just worry about school. That's hard enough."
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