School Lunch Program

Officers Go To School To Have Lunch With Students
Roseville Police Officers are dropping by Roseville School cafeterias for conversations with elementary through high school students.

The innovative idea and program launched by former Roseville Police Detective Ben Rezny has shown unexpected results for both students and officers. “Our students are excited to see the police officers in the lunchroom,” said Florence Odegard, principal at Central Park Elementary. “Students ask a lot of questions. It is a positive way to build relationships. It is important for students to informally interact with police officers--students need to understand that police offers are ‘real’ people who genuinely care about their well-being.”
Students enjoying lunch with Officer Baker
Increasing Police Involvement in the Community
The student / officer lunches increase police involvement in the community and develop positive relationships with students. Ben Rezny explained the idea grew out of his years as a School Resource Officer for Roseville Area High School. “By the time I worked with a student as the liaison officer, the relationship wasn’t usually a friendly one,” he recalled. “You realize that most of the students are good kids, they just sometimes make bad choices.” He realized how important it was to develop positive relationships with students, especially high school students, before there is a problem and students cross the threshold of behavior that breaks the law. “If we can develop ties with students that are positive and healthy, when we need to see them, we already know them,” Detective Rezny said. “There is some trust there, and we can get to the bottom of a bad choice and move on.”

Positive, Informal Contact
The positive, informal contact also builds trust; students seek out the officer privately as someone they can go to for help. “They’ll come to you with all sorts of problems - homework, teachers, domestic abuse, bullying. Students feel more supported, that they can trust us to help and it will be handled in a way that doesn’t make it worse,” said Rezny. “And it also gives an interesting perspective on all of the students. They really know what is going on in the community.”

Positive Responses
The response from officers has been enthusiastic. “The officers love it and want to do more,” said Rezny. “We have a stressful job, but we’ll go to lunch with students and come back more lighthearted, positive and energized for our job. These officers will be at a local store out in the community and the students and parents will approach them. They know the officer from positive encounters.”

In the end, it is a simple lunch in a school cafeteria. But the ripple effects of these informal, positive encounters have spread throughout Roseville schools and the community.