by Lisa Tome
Elkton Police Officer James "Skip" Roland is so dedicated to his job he'll give you the shirt off his back.
Roland, a School Resource Officer, has noticed a need in the community. And now he's working to fill it. Clothing racks were delivered to his office at Elkton High School last week. Roland is hoping to fill those racks with clothing that will help students. His first donation was a stack of shirts he took from his own closet.
Some of the clothing will be used in the event that a student wears clothes to school which don't meet the Cecil County Public Schools acceptable dress code. Other items will be given to students that Roland knows have a need. He said he sees students who wear the same items everyday. He knows they need more clothes.
In mid-October, Roland will expand his clothing drive to coats. He said fellow EPD officers have already promised to donate new coats that he will give to children who don't have them. "There is a lot of need at all the schools in Elkton," he said.
Coordinating the clothing drive is just the latest focus during Roland's career.
He was hired by Elkton Police 11 years ago after earning his police certification at Delaware County Community College. Within the department, he has been assigned as a patrol officer, bike patrol, and Neighborhood Action Team member. He is also certified as a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer. He has also been a business community based officer and worked in the street crimes unit.
He said his tenure in street crimes has helped him with his school policing. "Being in those drug-related areas, I know the kids who come from there. They know me from working in those areas," said Roland.
His office is at Elkton High, but it's unlikely that you will find him there. He serves at that school as well as Elkton Middle, and Holly Hall, Gilpin Manor, and Thomson Estates elementary schools.
"I try to get to all the schools at least once a day. I talk to the kids, talk to the staff, and address the issues at hand," he said.
He handles whatever crops up - from bus stop problems to discipline issues in the school. "I do anything the school administration feels police would be needed to do," he said.
He also spends at least an hour a week mentoring one elementary age child. "I like to build a good relationship with troubled children who need a positive role model in their life," he said. You may also find him in a classroom teaching safety or pre-DARE programing. He also likes mingling with those who have special needs. "I have a good rapport with the special needs kids. One girl calls me 'Hi Cop.' "Every time she sees me she says "Hi Cop," said Roland.
Roland is also a parent and enjoys interacting with children at all the schools. "Everyday is different. Some days are good days. Some days are bad," he said. He also works overtime, providing policing at athletic events at the school. "I try to get involved with everything. Hopefully that opens the door for communication with the kids," he said. "I wear many hats. I am an uncertified therapist."
Roland is not the only officer assigned to be a School Resource Officer. Shannon Comley shares the duties with Roland. Anyone who would like to donate school appropriate, gently worn clothing for Roland's racks may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The items may also be taken to the police department, He prefers to arrange to accept the items, personally, so he can offer his thanks.