Ontario School Resource Officer Moves On After 10 Years

  • 8/21/2018 5:21:58 PM
  • Jesse Smith
  • Local News

ONTARIO, OH - For over 10 years, Officer Adam Gongwer of the Ontario Police Department has been helping students and parents as the School Resource Officer at Ontario High School. This year, Gongwer will be turning the position over to another Officer, Joshua Rivers. Gongwer reflected on his role and explained that the position isn't completely meant for preventing violence or solving legal problems.

"The biggest thing over these ten years that I've done is getting these students the help they need," Gongwer said. "Whatever they need - physically, emotionally, spiritually, we try to connect them to different crisis counselors. There are all kinds of things that a school resource officer can do that isn't just law enforcement related."

Gongwer's first full year as Ontario's School Resource Officer was in the 2007-2008 school year, and he held the position for another three years. He took a year off to try his hand at being a Sergeant but "thought the grass was greener on the other side" and decided to resume his role as School Resource Officer. Before long, Gongwer had been the SRO for a total of ten years. Now, Gongwer is passing the torch to another officer to take over his duties as School Resource Officer as he moves on to a new chapter in his law enforcement career. 

"When I became a police officer fifteen years ago, I never once in a million years thought I'd be a school resource officer," Gongwer recalled. "I was a youth minister before that, and I worked in a juvenile incarceration situation for a few months before I joined the Ontario Police. I had a juvenile background, but I never thought while going into law enforcement that I would spend time in a school setting. I thought, 'I'll give it a try.' One year turned into three, I took a break and then came back, and that turned into a total of ten years. I decided 'you know what'? Ten years, I'm getting older, it's time for me to go back to the road patrol. Let a younger, newer guy come in that's still excited and motivated, and willing and ready to work with all of the problems and issues that today's children have."

Gongwer referenced the multitude of problems that today's students face in the age of continually advancing technology and stated that a younger officer would be better equipped to deal with issues such as cyberbullying, online threats, and various other challenges that officers face over time.

"Every day, it seems like things change so rapidly with technology," Gongwer said. "As I get older, I cannot keep up with the everyday changes in social media, the computers and the technology, the different phones, laptops, computers... all the different things that kids are being exposed to, good or bad. Hopefully, a younger officer coming in has the knowledge and expertise to handle those types of things. He'll be able to teach proper etiquette online, he'll be able to teach safety while being online and using social media. It's not that we're anti-social media, but we certainly want to use our brains when we're on those social media sites and be respectful to others, treat others nicely, and not make threats or do certain things. There is an appropriate behavior that, maybe a younger officer could bring to the table that I'm just getting too old to teach."

The new School Resource Officer, Officer Joshua Rivers, talked about Gongwer's reputation within the school system and how much students and staff have come to love him, and pledged to try and match Gongwer's level of commitment and care for the students, parents, and staff he'll be working with on a day-to-day basis.

"He has a bit of a legacy here," Rivers said, referring to Gongwer's tenure. "He's actually kind of a legend in the SRO community. He's known around the state of Ohio. When I went down for my training, they actually mentioned his name a number of times. There were photos, a couple videos of him. He's obviously developed a rapport with the students here. Kids come up and they say, 'I can't believe you're leaving,' they grab him and give him hugs. They give him high-fives, shake his hand, and ask him what he's going to do. I can only hope to fill those shoes. That would be, in my mind, a privilege to be modeled after him."

We wish Gongwer and Rivers the best of luck in their respective career paths going forward.

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