New resource officer gears up for first day of school

Officer Blake Petty aims to become a familiar face around Trumbull High School. — Donald Eng photo
Officer Blake Petty aims to become a familiar face around Trumbull High School. — Donald Eng photo

The freshmen won’t be the only people at Trumbull High with butterflies when school opens. Officer Blake Petty is gearing up for his first day of school, too.

Petty was recently named the school resource officer at Trumbull High. The program is new this year and Petty is still working out the exact details of his role.

“The biggest thing is to be visible,” he said. “I want to be a person, a face the students connect with when it comes to police.”

In addition to being named school resource officer, Petty has been field training officer since 2014 and a bicycle patrol officer since 2015.

Petty said he hopes students will feel comfortable talking to him about various issues that teens face.

For example, social media and cyberbullying have been an ongoing problem with teens.

“In our day, you did something stupid and everyone made fun of you for a few days, then by next week we’ve moved on,” he said. “Now people have camera phones and things are out there forever, so even years later things get reposted and you have to go through it again. You’ve got to be smart.”

Similarly the teen sexting fad also can have long-term ramifications, Petty said.

“You may think that teenage love lasts forever, but you know what really lasts forever? That selfie you sent,” he said.

Petty said he also could help teens put into perspective national issues, like the posting of police-involved shooting videos online.

“I can explain and help them understand what goes through an officer’s mind, so they don’t base their opinions on something as serious as a shooting on a 10-second video that they saw online,” Petty said.

But in order to communicate with teens, Petty must first introduce himself and gain their confidence, something he plans to do by being as active in the school as possible. An avid runner, he said he hopes to be able to participate in training runs with the cross country team, and possibly be a guest instructor in the classroom.

“Kids always think they’ll never use algebra after high school, but police use math skills every day,” he said. “When you investigate an accident, you’re actually using calculus to determine things like how fast the cars were going, in what direction, and the angle of impact.”

Of course, Petty also can show them that what they learn in school doesn’t necessarily determine the direction of their lives. A 2006 graduate of Fairfield U., Petty actually has a degree in economics and his first job out of college was in finance.

“I hated that environment, and a lot of my friends from volunteer firefighting had gotten into law enforcement, so they encouraged me to take the test for police,” Petty said. “Eight years later, here I am.”