Faces of 501: Chris Keil

Topeka Police Officer Chris Keil is a proud graduate of Topeka Public Schools, attending Potwin Elementary, McCarter Elementary, French Middle School and Topeka West. After high school he earned his degree in Sociology from Baker University starting with the TPD in 2006, he has been the school resource officer at Jardine Middle School since the 2011 school year. 

I love being in the school! I have a blast reminding the kids during football season or basketball season that I was a French Falcon! Over the years French and Jardine have shared a great rivalry in sports and it was the same when I was a student.  You played hard for every game but you got a little more excited when you saw French vs. Jardine on the schedule.  Outside of sports I think it makes connecting with the kids a little easier because we have so much in common.  I have hit that age where some of my classmates growing up are now parents to the students I have and that helps with familiarity and building connections. I relate to the kids by being a big kid myself!  You have to start with breaking down the stiff uptight cop look.  Give hugs, high fives, laugh and joke with the kids.  I make my office a safe place for the kids and I let them know they can come in for any reason (other than to skip class) and relax, snag a piece of candy and just chat.  I have pictures of my family up and pictures that my kids have colored for me.  I have KU stuff up everywhere so the kids see as soon as they come in, oh he is a normal guy, he has a family, he roots for KU just like I do.”

“When working with kids you must take up a mentoring role when dealing with any situation.  Depending on the age as well as the individual kid, he or she may not know right from wrong or legal versus illegal.   It is very important that as an officer you take the extra time to speak with the child. Working with adults is different because there is an expectation of knowing right from wrong and a basic understanding of the law and so there will not be as much of a mentoring aspect as there would be when working with kids.”
“There is a big misconception that SRO’s patrol the halls looking for law breakers.  That could not be further from the truth.  Our primary goal is the safety of everyone in the building but beyond it is mentoring and helping the kids.  We get into the classrooms and talk about decision making and how to handle situations that come their way.  My favorite presentation is teaming with the history teachers on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  It is thrilling to watch the kids get excited and involved in debate about the laws and current events going on when you can put it in perspective for them. For example, search and seizure sounds boring to them until you start talking about who can search their lockers/backpacks and bring it all back around to how it applies to the 4th amendment.  That moment when you see a concept click and make sense to a kid in class is amazing.  Could a teacher do the same, absolutely, but I think it means a little more when the kids hear it from a police officer.”

“I tell the students to get involved.  Take part in every activity that the school has to offer.  Play every sport, sign up for the school play and musicals.  If being on stage isn’t your thing be part of the stage crew behind the scenes.   Finally, watch the news! Stay up on current events and things going on in the world.  You are our future and you need to stay informed and educated so that you can help make our world a better place!”

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