First ‘school resource officer’ makes big difference at Southern Utah high school

Oct 11, 2023, 6:36 PM | Updated: 7:51 pm

BLANDING — How much of a difference can one person make? For high schoolers in Southern Utah, they’re seeing differences every day by someone new walking their halls.

This is their first homecoming at San Juan High School with Cole Palmer in his new role as student resource officer (SRO).

San Juan High School has never had an SRO before, something Palmer knows firsthand because he grew up in the area. Yet, students have warmed up to seeing Palmer walking the halls.

“Day one, everybody’s walking looking at you like, what is this guy doing here? But then by day two, day three, even week one, everybody’s fist pumping,” Palmer said.

Palmer spent more than four years as head coach for the track team, and at one time was helped coach the football team. Most recently, he served the Blanding community with the police force for more than three years.

“Cole is the kind of person that is going to walk into any place and be accepted for any role that he’s taking on, whether that’s as an officer, a coach, or a religious leader,” said Mayor Logan Monson for Blanding City.

Mayor Monson saw a need for an SRO for the high school and middle school in Blanding, and Palmer made the perfect candidate.

Using City Council and San Juan District funds, Mayor Monson approved the new role. Palmer said the need for a permanent police presence on the campuses had increased.

“We were responding constantly,” Palmer said  “Drugs, fights, violence, threats of violence, and a lot of theft.”

Safety was top of mind, and so was mental health.

“These are our most vulnerable population as far as age, and we have to support them in ways that maybe they’re not getting in other ways,” Mayor Monson said.

San Jaun High School has 428 students and nearly half of them are Native Americans.

Tzosilah Etsitty is one of them – her name means “female shooting star”.

Etsitty is a Junior at San Juan High. She calls Palmer her “best bro”.

“It was a little bit scary at first, but once you got to know Cole, he is really, really cool,” Etsitty said.

Etsitty said her race is respected by other students at school and that she hasn’t felt unsafe because of it, rather the other things students have brought to campus.

“We had a little bit of a trouble with drugs and alcohol last year, but I feel like it’s easing out because of Cole,” said Etsitty.

Tatum Begay, a Senior and student body officer said he’s felt safer with Palmer around as well.

“I know he loves us and will protect us,” Begay said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gil reviews body camera video from the shooting of Alex Stew...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Officers legally justified in shooting of armed military veteran suffering mental health crisis

Two Taylorsville police officers who shot a military veteran suffering a mental health crisis, were legally justified in using deadly force, the Salt Lake County Attorney's Office announced Friday.

24 minutes ago

Handcuffs in a jail cell. (Ravell Call/Deseret News)...

Michael Houck

Three people attempted to kidnap child with one posing a social worker, police report.

Three people planned to kidnap a child, claiming the father did not have legal custody of them, Vernal police say.

55 minutes ago

The Utah Department of Transportation will shut down Bangerter Highway in both directions from 9800...

Brianna Chavez

Portion of Bangerter Highway in South Jordan to close in both directions all weekend

The Utah Department of Transportation will shut down a portion of Bangerter Highway in South Jordan in both directions from 9800 S to 10400 S from Friday, May 17 at 10 p.m. to Monday, May 21 at 5 a.m.

1 hour ago

IZU, JAPAN - JULY 27: Haley Batten of Team United States rides during the Women's Cross-country rac...

Alex Cabrero

Park City mountain biker training to compete in her second Olympics

Haley Batten who is on the USA Cycling team, competed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Now, she's training for Paris.

2 hours ago

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 04:  Sesame Street characters Ernie, Bert, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Zoe and Cookie M...

Emma Benson

‘Elmo loves you!’ Our favorite red Muppet stars in mental health campaign

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we all deal with stress and different emotions. In January, Elmo asked a simple question online that sparked a huge conversation.

3 hours ago

A psychiatrist at the Huntsman Mental Health is recommending to build a "mental health toolkit."...

Peter Rosen and Emma Benson, KSL TV

Building a mental health toolkit

When life overwhelms you, sometimes there's not just one solution; which is good to have a variety of tools in your "mental health toolkit."

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

First ‘school resource officer’ makes big difference at Southern Utah high school