|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Saturday, 16 July 2011 00:00|
For one Cottonwood Police Department police officer, the new school year started Tuesday, July 12.
That’s the day officer Del Munday took charge as the new Mingus Union High School Resource Officer.
The MUHS District Governing Board unanimously approved a contract with the city of Cottonwood to hire Munday on Thursday, July 7. The district will reimburse the city $68,000 for Munday’s services.
The agreement is similar to those used in previous years, with the exception of the reimbursement amount, which increases each year with the officer’s salary. The agreement allows the district to apply for grant funding to maintain the school resource officer position.
“The presence of a school resource officer is clearly beneficial to students, teachers and administrators alike,” Cottonwood Police Department Police Chief Jody Fanning reported to Cottonwood City Council on July 5, the day council unanimously approved the contract with MUHSD.
“This officer is able to respond rapidly in the event of an emergency or conflict. He teaches police and safety-oriented courses at the school and attends special school functions such as chaperoning dances and sports activities,” Fanning said.
For Munday, the new position is a chance to work with students, one of his favorite activities as a law enforcement officer, he said.
“I’m easy to work with. I try to keep an open mind about things,” Munday said. “It’s not all about enforcement. It’s also about wanting to help with problem solving and keeping the lines of communication open.”
He looks forward to working as a liaison between the administration, law enforcement and student victims of crime when necessary, he said.
An Iraq War veteran who served in the U.S. Army, Munday worked as an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer starting in 2003 and came to Cottonwood in 2008 in hopes of taking on more criminal investigations, as opposed to traffic enforcement. He grew up in Cottonwood, he said.
Munday will lead the department’s Explorer program at MUHS, and teach criminal investigation techniques and other police procedures to students. Explorer members help with crowd and traffic control at public events as part of their training.
“They will learn hand-to-hand combat techniques as a defensive matter — basically how to protect themselves,” he said.
Gang activity will also be on Munday’s radar as he patrols the school and meets with students. He worked on police investigations of local gang activity in the past. He said some MUHS students already belong to gangs and gang members from as far away as Tucson sometimes attempt to recruit students.
“As I work within the high school, I will be able to see firsthand students who are wearing gang colors and learn where they’re having fights on and off campus,” Munday said.
Two gangs are of particular concern: Gangster Disciples and Southwest Familia SEF, he said.
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