New class helps Ogden school resource officers connect with teens

Dec 14, 2021, 6:50 PM | Updated: 9:16 pm

OGDEN, Utah — School resource officers with Ogden Police Department attended an important class Tuesday designed to help officers understand students better. 

Whenever he walks into a room, Colten Johansen is used to people looking at him. His stature almost demands it but it’s more his personality that makes him a perfect police school resource officer. 

“It’s always been a positive thing for me,” he said with the kind of voice that also commands attention. “Dealing with the kids and being around the kids and being a positive role model for the kids has always been a good thing.”  

Being a role model is something Johansen takes seriously. It’s also why he’s spent the past nine years working with students in the Ogden School District. 

“I talk to them. I spend time with them and things like that and I get a lot of kids who will come into my office and talk with me and chat with me,” he said.  

Even Johansen admitted, though, he could always learn new tricks. 

“Always learning,” he said with a smile. “Anything that we can learn that helps us to become better at our jobs and help us to deal with the kids, it’s going to help us.” 

That feeling is a big reason why the Ogden School District teamed up with a national group called “Strategies For Youth.” The group specializes in programs geared toward connecting cops and kids. 

This particular training class for Ogden’s school resource officers focused on how a teenager’s brain differs from an adult’s brain when it comes to perceiving, processing, and responding to information.  

The goal is to help officers understand students better. 

“The more adult interactions a student can have a positive interaction with, the more successful they’re going to be in school and outside,” said Chad Carpenter. 

Carpenter is the assistant superintendent of the Ogden School District. 

One emphasis of the program is positive police interactions with minority students. 

For the Ogden School District, that’s especially important since most students here are in that category.  

“We’re a majority-minority school district. We have a high Hispanic population. We have a lot of diversity. It is critically important for us to support all students and allow them to see officers as a partner, an advocate,” said Carpenter. “We want our students, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of their socio-economic background, to view police officers as someone they can go to, someone they can trust.” 

However, that trust works both ways. 

It’s why the district is having its resource officers take this class. It will help them better connect with kids, especially when it comes to de-escalating challenging situations. 

“You learn that kids only have the capacity to learn so much at a time, so they don’t fully understand everything that’s going on, and so sometimes you got to think on their level versus what we would do as adults,” said Johansen.  

By doing so, that trust forms and can last far beyond the classroom. 

“Just the other day I had a former student come up to me and thank me for helping him get through and graduating,” said Johansen. “That means a lot.” 

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New class helps Ogden school resource officers connect with teens