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Salute the Badge: Deputy steps up for SRO program - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Salute the Badge: Deputy steps up for SRO program

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LOLO - One deputy was the first in line for the job when the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office looked to resurrect its School  Resource Officer program.

MTN News found out how a lifetime of public service led Deputy Rebecca Birket to the job she was meant to do in this edition of Salute the Badge.

High fives and hugs make up Deputy Birket’s day at Lolo School, which is one of 12 she serves in Missoula County as a Student Resource Officer, where she makes connections with the kids.

“We don’t want them to have a preconceived notion that cops are scary, and [say] I don’t want to have to talk to the cops. We want it to be a good thing. We want to be another trusted adult that these kids can come to," Deputy Birket said.

The Sheriff’s Office SRO program re-launched last month after a hiatus and Deputy Birket wanted the job.

It was a School Resource Officer at her school growing up in California who inspired her. And with a brother who was a police officer, she felt called to public service.

But coming out of high school, she was too young for the job so she became a dispatcher, then on weekends trained to be a volunteer firefighter, then an EMT then detention officer, a Missoula County Sheriff’s Office detective and now an SRO.

Deputy Birket says all roads have led to this.

“I love it. I love what I’m doing, being in this role and seeing these kids every day. I have the best job in the department and I come home and my hands are sore from all the high five’s and I think that’s a good thing!” 

The Sheriff’s office SRO program re-launched last month after a hiatus. Deputy Birket says her job is not just about school safety -- she is someone students can talk to about whatever is bothering them.

Deputy Birket hears about new puppies and soccer practice, she goes to their football games and cheers along -- and when needed, she’s there for those difficult discipline issues in school.

But mainly, she is a positive presence in the hallways and hopes to show officers are regular people who are there to help. Building those relationships and establishing that rapport and gaining that trust to know that behind all of this is a mom and a person.

Deputy Birket says she hopes the Sheriff’s Office SRO program will eventually be available at more schools in Missoula County.

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