Tim Lampert: Educating, protecting part of jobMay 1, 2019
By LEANN BURKE
DUBOIS — Students in Katie Gogel’s third grade class at Dubois Elementary greeted School Resource Officer Tim Lampert with smiles and a chorus of “Hi, Officer Lampert” when he stopped by the class one afternoon. Then, they all clamored to talk to him and show off the stick-on mustaches they’d acquired.
“They love him,” Gogel said. “They see him as a good role model, a good figure.”
Lampert, a veteran deputy with the Dubois County Sheriff’s Office, started at the corporation in January and is the corporation’s inaugural SRO. His schedule varies day by day — which he does on purpose for security — but it always starts early with security checks around all four school buildings, and includes a stop at each school throughout the day with lots of interactions with the students.
“Your goal is to try and make them comfortable to talk to you,” Lampert said.
He seems to be reaching that goal. As he walked the halls at Dubois Middle School last week, several of the students chatted with him during a passing period, talking about their progress on the state standardized ILEARN test, upcoming sporting events, and even the battery status of their iPads.
Lampert described his daily interactions with kids as a “change of pace” from what he’s used to at work.
Lampert began his career in law enforcement in 1990, starting out as a jailer in Dubois County before becoming a deputy in 1994. Most recently, he served as chief deputy.
For the last 29 years, Lampert’s been dealing with adults. When Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter appointed him to the SRO position shortly after the 2018 election, Lampert switched gears to dealing with kids.
One thing that’s still the same is the variety in the work. School-aged kids span a large age range and deal with a range of issues: bad home lives, learning to drive, peer pressure, etc.
“Ten-year-olds are different from 18-year-olds,” Lampert said. “You adjust.”
When he’s not interacting with students, Lampert works with the staff to help out in any way he can. Earlier this month, he set up a mock traffic accident for Northeast Dubois High School’s juniors and seniors ahead of prom, and he supplied orange jumpsuits for an eighth grade production of the play “Orange is the New Glass.” Back in February, he brought in police equipment and set up a tactical course for a middle school gym class. He also regularly presents to the students on current issues like vaping and internet safety.
“You just try to educate the kids and encourage them to make good choices,” Lampert said.
Administrators have been glad to have Lampert around. When Indiana created the Secured School Safety Grant, Northeast Dubois was quick to apply and had adding a school resource officer in mind. Unlike the county’s other three school districts, Northeast Dubois doesn’t have a local police station, Superintendent Bill Hochgesang said, so response time to an emergency is 10 to 15 minutes.
“Most times situations are over in 10 minutes or less,” Hochgesang said. “It just made sense that we should have someone here.”
Lampert’s presence has already come in handy. Earlier this year, Hochgesang said, the power went out during the school day, and the corporation lost some of its communication capabilities. Lampert’s police communication system still worked, though, so that added a layer of security until everything came back online.
Anomalous situation aside, administrators say there’s a lot of value in Lampert’s everyday activities, especially his interactions with students.
“I think we are solving some problems before they ever start,” Dubois Middle School Principal Ryan Case said.
But anytime someone offers Lampert praise, he’s quick to turn the spotlight to the educators.
“They’re the ones doing the real work,” Lampert said. “They’re trying to turn these kids into fine young men and women. They go above and beyond.”
For the foreseeable future, Lampert will play a part in that effort.
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