By: Pricila Flores and Elise Jonas-Delson
Badges, a holster and handcuffs — are these generally seen on someone who works
on a school campus?
These items aren’t unfamiliar to School Resource Officer Nick Wagner, who hopes to break through the stereotype attributed to an officer in uniform. Wagner stresses that his job is not to get students in trouble with the law.
Wagner’s new position as school resource officer came from a joint decision by the Novato Police Department and NUSD. His role is to serve as campus security while also connecting with the students, staff and the school community. Funding for the SRO’s comes from the city council budget.
Wagner started as a school resource officer in August, working on Tuesdays through Fridays. On Mondays, Antonio Rodriguez, Novato High School’s primary SRO, fills in his position. The officers work hours before and after students arrive on campus. Before school, Wagner patrols traffic and watches for unsafe driving. As the day progresses, he works with Vice Principal Mike Casper to deal with student disciplinary issues as needed. Wagner plans to become involved in San Marin’s Restorative Justice program, where a student board helps students find alternative consequences their for actions instead of suspension or expulsion. During rallies, Wagner patrols the area to ensure no students have left campus. After school, he fills out paperwork and fulfills his duties as part of the Novato Response Team, a unit separate from the resource program. In addition to his time at San Marin, Wagner spends up to to an hour at Sinaloa Middle School two to three days a week.
Wagner’s job serves a two-fold function: keeping the community safe while also being a helping hand to students who might need it.
“I’m here to also be a mentor and a counselor; I’m here to help,” Wagner said. He is trained in crisis intervention and does not want students to shy away from talking to and confiding in him. Wagner hopes students will approach him with any problems they have so he can help them through it, from having a rough day to having thoughts about self-harm. Having spent his childhood in southern Marin and attended Marin Catholic, Wagner understands what it is like to “grow up in Marin”.
Wagner is also using different parts of his background to build personal connections with students and the community. Before becoming a police officer, he taught physical education and coached youth lacrosse. Wagner attended business school in pursuit of being a stockbroker but later changed his career plans.
“I went on a ride along with one of my buddies from high school and I saw him save a guy’s life,” Wagner said. “That’s what made me want to be a police officer.”
Since the beginning of the school year, Wagner has already connected with students and referred some to the Novato Police Explorer Program. He hopes to further strengthen his relationship with students by coaching San Marin football this fall and possibly lacrosse in the spring.
When he is not at San Marin or working as a police officer, Wagner spends time with his family and friends. He also enjoys riding motorcycles and hot rods, boating and hosting barbecues. Wagner finds pleasure in comedy and encourages students to tell him school-appropriate jokes.
By Pricila Flores and Elise Jonas- Delson