Howell Public Schools will have a new resource officer to start the upcoming school year and ensure a safe learning environment while building positive relationships between law enforcement, youth, and young adults in the community.

In light of improving economic conditions and strategic planning, the district and the Howell Police Department have re-established a partnership to bring back a dedicated school resource officer. The district and the city will share in the cost of the position, which will be funded for at least the next three years. Howell Officer Don Banfield, a 16-year veteran of the department, is no stranger to the district and had served as the district’s resource officer before the position was discontinued due to budgetary reasons at the end of the 2013/2014 school year.

Howell Superintendent Erin MacGregor says a need and desire to bring back the position came out of strategic planning and has actually been part of a two year process to free up the resources to do so. He feels the position is critical for safety and security but also a healthy school culture.

MacGregor says while Officer Banfield will primarily be at the high school, he will also be visible in the rest of district buildings. He says another benefit to having Banfield around is support with crisis planning, in case something were to happen on campus or in the district. He will work out of Howell High School but be visible at various events and have jurisdiction over the six schools within the city limits. At the three others outside city boundaries, Banfield will support educational and outreach efforts.

Howell Police Chief George Basar says aside from providing a measure of safety and security, they look forward to the opportunity to be a positive role model, providing guidance, counseling and mentoring. He says the partnership will also help foster positive relationships with youth and young adults in the Howell community.

Officer Banfield’s formal start date is August 28th but to his credit, MacGregor says Banfield is already discussing ways to start building connections with staff and students prior to that to ensure a smooth transition.

More information about the partnership and Banfield’s background and experience is available through the link. (JM)