Curtis Massey has been the Wills Valley Elementary School Resource Officer for six years, and has been in law enforcement for 32 years. The first six years of his career were spent on the streets as a patrol officer, then 19 years as an investigator. He said his reason for choosing law enforcement as a career was “to make a difference.”
His time as an investigator was spent solving crimes involving theft, child abuse and homicide. All of this experience has helped him understand and recognize people’s behaviors and made him alert to spotting problems and situations that need attention by a law enforcement officer.
Massey is a parent and said he knows it is difficult for a parent to entrust their precious child into the hands of someone else. “I don’t take my responsibility lightly,” said Massey. “I want the parents and children to know that I am here to protect them and I will do whatever is necessary to keep them safe.”
It was right after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December of 2012 that Massey made the offer to help in anyway he could. When the SRO program was instituted he was on board without any hesitation.
Massey takes time to speak to the students both in the hallways and before and after school, but especially by visiting their classrooms and talking to them about safety and decision making.
“I explain things to them like if they were to find a gun on a playground what to do about it,” said Massey. “How they should not pick it up but instead alert their parent or guardian.”
He teaches them about safety when near a road, the importance of seat belts when in a vehicle, and the difference between good and bad choices. He even takes the time occasionally to read to them books like Dr. Seuss. He wants the children to realize he is someone they can trust.
Another lesson he teaches the students is about what to do if someone they don’t know tries to get them to come with them or grabs them. He especially emphasizes to them the need to talk with their parents about this. He feels every family needs a plan of safety for their children.
Massey wants parents to have practice sessions with their children about what they would do in various situations that could endanger their child. When out in public he teaches his family, “If you can’t see me, than I can’t see you,” said Massey. “I think parents need to keep their children in sight at all times when they are at stores and other public places.”
Whenever the school has a gathering, even for PTA, Massey attends. He likes meeting the parents of the children he sees regularly.
“This is the most satisfying job I’ve ever had,” said Massey. “When I worked the streets or investigated I may have affected the lives of maybe 15 people in a day. Here I touch the lives of many more. It’s a satisfaction that is difficult to put into words.”
– This column, written by Marla Ballard, will appear as a series in the Times-Journal weekend editions to feature DeKalb County School Resource Officers. A series highlighting the SROs in the Fort Payne City School System will follow.