KINGSTON — Sometimes Heather’s Wright’s belt, which holds her gun and other Kitsap Sheriff’s Deputy equipment, prevents her from playing basketball well with the students at Kingston Junior High.
Other than that, Wright is fitting in well as the Student Resource Officer at Kingston Junior High.
Wright joined the school this year after giving birth to a baby boy. She replaced last year’s SRO, Jon Brossel, who was promoted to detective and left the school.
Wright admits to a few moments of nervousness before making her first foray into Kingston Junior High.
“You feel like the new kid,” she said. “I hoped they’d like me, hoped they wouldn’t pick on me.”
Before joining KJH, Wright had served with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department (as SRO she is still on the force and still serves “on the road” when she is not at the school) and the University of Washington police force.
After she had her son, Wright eyed the SRO job.
“I felt like I needed something different,” she said, “something that would be positive for myself but also made me feel like I was doing something.”
The SRO job fit the bill, she said:
“A big-time opportunity knocked,” she said, “and I opened the door and ran in.”
After an interview (“All the others wore uniforms, and there I was eight months pregnant” Wright said) she was hired.
As SRO, Wright patrols the school, gives presentations on legal and law enforcement issues, and chats with students.
“I never had a cop in school,” Wright said. “I mean, how strange is that?”
But Wright sees herself not as a stern taskmaster, but an aid to students.
“I’m not here to take everyone to jail,” Wright said. “I’m there for a resource for them.”
And, while Wright does respond to serious discipline issues, she prefers getting to know the students and steering them in the right direction, sometimes literally, as she herds kids into the school as the first bell gets nearer.
She fills out reports and does other paperwork at a separate office in Kingston, Wright said, but is sure to be present at all three lunches, and also swings by the seventh-grade rooms once a day.
“I mix in and try to get everywhere,” she said.
So far, she said, the students have been open to her presence.
“They’re more excited to have me around than I thought,” Wright said. “They wave at me. They say hi.”
Wright said she also receives queries (“Is that gun real?”) and answers questions for the students.
During workshops, she will toss them candy for right answers.
“They love that,” she said. “Typical kids.”
Wright, who is married to Poulsbo Police officer Robert Wright, said her SRO contract is two years, and she’d like to stay it out, both because she wants to provide stability for her newborn son and she likes the job.
“I think it can be a positive thing,” she said. “The way I think of it, I’m here for preventative maintenance.”