David Childress works every day from 7:30 in the morning until the Washington School Campus is cleared of students and faculty and he watches over every home high school sporting event.
But he said he really doesn’t have a job.
“If you have a love for it, it’s not a job,” the affable McClain County Sheriff’s Lieutenant says with a smile.
He’s the School Resource Officer for Washington Schools and is supervisor for all the School Resource Officers on campus at Dibble, Wayne and Mid-America Technology Center.
Childress began his sheriff’s department career right where he is now.
“I worked there four years,” he said. “All the kids that were in elementary school back then are in high school or have graduated.
That was 2013 with 22 years of police work in the rearview mirror.
The 1996 high school graduate has two science degrees from Oklahoma State University.
So why not a career in science instead of policing?
“I didn’t like science,” he said with a chuckle.
Childress has logged time with the Ardmore Police Department, Lone Grove’s Police Department and as a State Parks Ranger.
He also is an alumni of Wadley’s EMS.
As the School Resource Officer, Childress goes from building to building depending on the time of day.
“I visit with teachers and principals and address anything the kids might need like if they are having problems at home or with other students,” he said. “I drive around campus several times a day going to the Ag building, Mid-high, the indoor facility and the gym seeing who’s supposed to be here and who’s not supposed to be here.
“We have an open campus at lunch so some walk downtown to get food. I patrol the areas where they are walking to make sure no one is harassing them.”
Childress says it’s important to build relationships with the kids at an early age because some of them are afraid of police officers.
“This is the only job I regretted to leave,” Childress said. “I always missed this job.”
But that all changed when he assumed the position again on Halloween Day this year.
He replaced Perry Settle who took the same job at Chickasha Elementary, working for Grady County.
Childress reports he has over 2,000 hours of CLEET training and advanced certification.
He and his wife, Jessica, have four girls ranging in age from fifth grade to college age.
Jessica worked at Norman Regional Hospital in the imaging department doing MRIs, CTs and X-rays.
“But she always wanted to open a coffee shop,” Childress said. “Now she runs the Buffalo Snow sno-cone and coffee shop in Washington.”
Childress said when he got promoted to lieutenant and was behind a desk it just wasn’t for him.
“This is where I belong,” he said. “My kids go to school here. We have a business in town. We live here. We’re pretty invested in the kids and the community. Washington is a good, good place to live. I love it. I really do.
“It really is a lot of fun. You can see these kids grow and become adults and you hope you have some input in that.
“When I was in the office all day I dreaded coming to work. I hated being in an office all day feeling cooped up. I think my girls like me being here, too.”
When school is not in session like in the summer Childress will go back on patrol for the sheriff’s department.
Childress said from time to time one of his deputies will call and tell him they caught one of his students speeding.
“A lot of times we let the coach give them a few extra laps,” Childress said. “Giving them a ticket is not always the answer because mom and dad pay the ticket.”
Childress said the administration and teachers do a good job of making the school a safe place for kids.
“They have a zero tolerance policy for bullying,” Childress said. “I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but I’ve only had to deal with it one time since I’ve been back.”
A challenge for Childress is showing the new guys at the other sites how to interact with people.
“It’s communication skills. I’d rather talk to somebody than fight with somebody,” he said.
And he wants to do his talking in Washington, right where he is, where he really doesn’t have a job.
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