Lampert embraces ‘first line of defense’ roleJanuary 14, 2020
By LEANN BURKE
JASPER — Jasper Police Department Office Brian Lampert, 39, wants to be the first line of defense if the unthinkable happens at one of the city’s schools.
That’s why when the opportunity to be Greater Jasper Schools’ second school resource officer — Officer Jason Knies also serves the school — came up in March 2019, he took it.
“I like being there for the kids,” Lampert said. “And I do want to be that first line of defense if, God forbid, something happens.”
Part of that desire may come from the fact that his children — eighth grader Elise and second graders Brock and Alyssa — attend Jasper schools. In fact, Lampert is primarily stationed at Elise’s school, Jasper Middle.
Although Lampert works at Elise’s school, he said he tries not to embarrass her too much, with the exception of one of his first days on the job when he sat down with her at lunch in the cafeteria.
“Her face got beet red,” Lampert recalled with a smile.
Although the two eat lunch together occasionally, Lampert spends most lunch periods with other students in the cafeteria just being present and trying to build relationships with the kids. That’s the main part of his job as an SRO.
“You want to show them that we’re human, too,” Lampert said. “Let them see the positive side of law enforcement.”
Becoming an SRO meant a shift in thinking for Lampert. When he came to Jasper Middle School last year, he was leaving behind about a decade of patrol experience. On that side of law enforcement, he said, there’s a lot of excitement and surprises. At the schools, though, it’s more laid back. So far, his biggest issue at the schools has been social media and cyberbullying.
“Most people are a lot bolder behind a keyboard and say things they wouldn’t face to face,” he said.
When issues arise, Lampert said responding within a school setting is more about teaching the students right from wrong than it is about sending them through the justice system. Juvenile law is different from adult law, he said, and it’s taken some adjustment.
Although having an SRO is still new to Jasper Middle School, Principal David Hubster said it’s already provided the students and staff a level of comfort. Having an SRO gives staff an added level of legal knowledge and everyone a better sense of security, Hubster said. At a time when school safety is almost constantly in the news, that’s important.
The students are aware of the school shootings and have concerns about them, Lampert said.
“I think they pay attention to current events more than we think they do,” he said.
Part of his job is helping allay some of those fears. He does that through workshops with the students on the ALICE Active Shooter Response Training protocols the corporation implemented. ALICE stands for alert, lock down, inform, counter and evacuate. During homeroom time, Lampert said, he gets a couple of classes together and teaches the kids what each step in the protocol means, and gives them options for how to carry it out if the need arises. So far, he said, he’s gone through lock down with all the students, teaching them how to barricade classroom doors to add an extra level of security to the already locked doors.
In addition to the ALICE presentations, Lampert said teachers often invite him into their classrooms for other presentations as well, especially when they cover drugs and alcohol or online safety. Hubster said this year the staff is looking at how to get Lampert into classrooms even more.
When Lampert isn’t at the middle schools, he’s at one of the corporation’s three elementary schools. Knies covers Jasper High School, and the two officers share duties at the elementary schools to make sure the whole corporation is covered. It’s interesting to see how different age groups respond to his presence, Lampert said. The elementary school students are a lot more talkative and eager to interact with him. At the middle school, he usually has to initiate conversations.
Although being in the school setting everyday is still new for Lampert, so far it’s been a good fit for a man who always wanted to work in law enforcement. A Dubois County native, Lampert attended Holy Family Catholic School in Jasper and graduated from Northeast Dubois. After high school, he attended Vincennes University and earned a degree in criminal justice. After college, he worked in construction for several years before landing a police job with the Jasper Police Department in 2007.
Looking ahead at his career, Lampert said he’s excited to continue working with the schools and getting more involved. He already helps out with the National Archery in the Schools program and the middle school softball team, of which Elise is a member. Regardless of where else he finds himself involved, the highlight for him will continue to be just being around the kids.
“It’s gratifying just being here and having the kids approach you,” he said. “I like getting their thoughts on what’s going on around the world.”
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