Teaching young dogs old tricks…

Police Officers develop an intuition, a hunch about people in crisis or those soon to be. It develops over time and becomes a second sight, a keen understanding of people and their behavior, good or bad. After 33 years in law enforcement I certainly developed an ole’ school street personality that served me well and kept me safe.

Then I was assigned to my school district as a school resource officer. Immediately everything I thought I knew about police work and restorative justice went out the window as the objects of my attention shifted from run-of-the-mill street-patrol activities to chasing wild packs of 14-year-girls being pursued by 14-year-old boys, totally clueless about these objects of their affection.

This predator, prey relationship was in constant flux; roles shifting all-the-time. I was suddenly in uncharted territory, an interloper in a foreign place where chaos ruled the day in the form of bad boys and bad girls doing what they do best: wreaking havoc. This outlandish place was an average high school. With some trepidation and convinced that my career light was dimming, I became the new sheriff in town; town meaning the hallowed halls of the high school, a brave new world to me.

BSU2As each school day dawned with apocalyptic teenage, end-of-the-world-as-we-know it, issues, I realized that my perception of all things high school were changeable, and as frightening as it was comical. Youth is really wasted on the young. I was a fireman putting out emotional and nonsensical fires all day long.  I was a holy man saving young souls and a referee keeping parents away from teachers and teachers away from students. These budding delinquents were my knuckleheads, and knucklehead can be spelled many ways and has many definitions: ludicrous, lazy, laughable and stupid for some; stupid as in “You did what, are you out of your mind, stupid? Other labels were as unique as their hosts: no two kids the same, exactly.

So for more than 15 years, I chased and caught, wrestled and arrested, hugged, scolded and sequestered, laughed and cried, reveled in success and sucked up the good, the bad and the ugly. I was Jack, an ole school cop with a doctorate walking the halls looking for knuckleheads, taking them under my wing, pushing them forward and drilling into their thick heads that teenage is not terminal.

Drifters is a book about these kids; their culture, their anxieties, their magnificent achievements and their down-and-out days. It’s a book about how my life was made better as I helped my knuckleheads navigate adolescence.

I’m proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks, and young dogs old tricks, as well…

One thought on “Teaching young dogs old tricks…

  1. Pingback: Making the Cut: Auditioning Knuckleheads | Drifters

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