School Resource Officer: Officer Matthew Santoro


Photo by Presley Schuler

Santoro in the conference room at the police department. (Schuler)

Last year, Officer Phil Powers, the high school resource officer for over 20 years, retired and needed a replacement. Officer Matthew Santoro followed in Officer Power’s footsteps and became the school’s new resource officer.

Officer Santoro has seven years of experience as a patrolman. After shadowing Powers, he was assigned the new role by Police Chief Joseph Bennett.

“I ended up pretty much shadowing [Powers] for the entirety of last year, because we knew I would be taking over. I was able to essentially follow him around and see how he did things and his response to certain types of situations,” Officer Santoro said. “He gave me a lot of great advice and helped me build relationships along the way.”

Since Officer Powers had been a school resource officer for so long, it was challenging to replace him. For Santoro, his new position is different from serving as a patrolman.

Instead of looking for people committing crimes, he helps students stay out of the legal system. If they are already involved with the legal system, he acts as their advocate, helping them work through diversion programs and helping them avoid criminal charges.

“We don’t want kids to be charged with a crime. At some point they may have to be held accountable for something they did, but they don’t need to be charged with a crime to do that. Part of my job is helping them through those tough scenarios.”

Officer Santoro’s primary role is keeping the school safe. He can usually be found at arrival and dismissal times watching for any issues that may occur. Still, every day varies depending on meetings, whether it be with students, parents, or other members of the community.

He also handles all calls for service at the school, emergencies as well as non-emergencies. This allows other officers to focus on issues around the town.

When a safety issue arises, Officer Santoro will intervene. Working with administration and counselors, he is a key resource in any violent situation, legal issues, or crimes committed.

Officer Santoro has come to realize how special the community is. Santoro said he appreciates that the community’s commitment to the police department has not changed and continues to be supportive during the recent critical climate.

Officer Santoro is first and foremost a resource. His role is to assist students and provide an additional point of contact for help.