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A policeman teens want to have around

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By Carol A. Clark

When school safety concerns precipitated the plan to place law enforcement officers on Los Alamos Middle School and Los Alamos High School campuses in 2005, police and school officials worried about the impact that police presence might create. Police Chief Wayne Torpy and Superintendent James Anderson determined the mission of School Resource Officers (SRO) would be a positive presence on campus while ensuring the physical safety of all students.Gauging from a recent event at LAMS, SRO Cpl. Oliver Morris has clearly met that mission during his two years at LAMS. Morris is returning to patrol duty, and during a special send-off ceremony Dec. 21, some 600 students, teachers and administrators honored Morris with standing ovations, riotous cheers, raucous applause and stampede-style foot stomping inside the LAMS gymnasium.“Cpl. Morris has been a wonderful addition to the campus,” LAMS Principal Garrett Bosarge said. “He connects with the kids. The kids love him, the teachers love him and he’s been very supportive to our school.”Bosarge also praised the support LAMS has received from the Los Alamos Police Department as a whole. Students broke out in enthusiastic applause when Torpy and a contingent of his senior officers were introduced at the event.LAMS Student Council presented Morris with a plaque and a bouquet of flowers during the assembly. He also was presented with a book of 600 memories from the students by school counselor Nicole Ferry.His wife Kateri, infant son Ty and father Doug Morris were in attendance to see Morris honored by the entire school.When it came time for Morris to address the cheering crowd, he praised everyone else. He called on a group of flag raisers to join him on stage. “Rain or shine, even when their hands are freezing, these students pull up the cable that raises the flag,” Morris said. “They make me so proud.” Morris turned his attention to the entire student body saying, “You guys make my job awesome because you guys work together as a team. And the teachers, they should be the ones being talked about up here because they really put their heart in their jobs.” Morris called on the students to give the LAMS teachers a round of applause for the work they do.Assistant Principal Mike Johnson described Morris as first being known as “officer and corporal ... He became known as coach, educator, problem solver, law enforcement officer, lunch monitor, mentor, conflict mediator, role model.”Johnson continued, “He’s been the guy who comes here every day to make sure you are safe. He’s the guy who during lunch definitely schooled the seventh- and eighth-grade boys, showing them how basketball is played. If he can handle all of us, then I’m pretty sure he can handle anything the streets of Los Alamos have to offer.”Student Council President Dennis Trujillo spoke fondly of Morris coaching him in football during the last two seasons. John Gibson also spoke of his football experiences. “I will always remember Cpl. Morris as coach,” he said. “He was never degrading or mean. He taught us that life is about making a difference as a person and most of all about always being a team.”A track student recalled Morris teaching her and her teammates how to breath more effectively when running in cold weather by taking short, quick breaths.Coach Daren Jones described Morris as, “... a unique individual dedicated to improving our school.”Ferry told Morris her job became much easier after Morris came to work at the school. “We were so lucky to have you for two years.”