Being a School Resource Officer for 10 Poudre School District schools is not your typical 8-to-5 job, Larimer County School Resource Officer Deputy Nancy Kay Remington says.
Twelve years into a job she thought she didn’t want, she says there is no typical day at the office, offering April 18 as an example.
“I’m getting ready for school. Honestly, I’m brushing my teeth and my phone rings — it’s my sergeant,” Remington said.
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Earlier that morning, Larimer County deputies chased a man involved in a domestic dispute from one side of Wellington to another. As the suspect was fleeing, he discarded a gun along the way. The man was captured in a vacant home just a few hundred yards from Eyestone Elementary and Wellington Middle schools.
“While I’m driving, I’m calling the school,” Remington said.
As she rushed toward the schools, she told administrators that the kids needed to be kept inside until the grounds could be searched.
“Now, the school district was amazing,” Remington said. “In pretty short order, we got all the properties searched and were able to let the kids out.”
While this is going on, a bus carrying students was involved in an accident on its way to Eyestone Elementary and Wellington Middle School.
“Those are my schools, so I’m coordinating with law enforcement trying to figure out what’s happening,” Remington said. “My job is never typical.”
Remington splits her time between Wellington and Cache La Poudre middle schools and Eyestone, Rice, Timnath, Bethke, Stove Prairie, Red Feather Lakes, Livermore and Cache La Poudre elementary schools.
A big part of Remington’s job is to keep the schools safe, especially in situations like those on April 18. She deals with other safety issues ranging from making sure visitors at the schools are wearing identification tags to having the students practice drills.
“I work with all my staff, every single one of the schools and get them really comfortable with that lock-down procedure. And then I do two drills a year per school — 20 drills a year just on lock-down.”
After the drills are over, Remington said she visits with students about how the practice went and how they are feeling.
“She makes our staff and kids feel safe,” Wellington Middle School principal Alicia Durand said. “You can’t put a price on that.”
Remington said another day on the job might include a situation like an ill middle school student who needs to go home, but the parents can’t get off work to come and get them.
“In middle school, they are old enough to be home alone so I will take them home,” Remington said. “I actually have a thing in my car that kids can throw up in.”
The typical part of the job, Remington said, is the constant connection.
“I do a lot of that, connecting people with what they need,” Remington said.
Using the example of a student who become homeless, Remington said that she looks at what agencies can help them find a home, what agencies can house them until they find a home, where they can get some food or clothing.
“I don’t get them those things, I connect them with the agencies that do,” Remington said.
Remington said that writing a juvenile a ticket is a lot like that; her goal is to get them the help they need.
“You know, put them into the court system where they can get them into classes,” Remington said. “Classes on how to make better decisions, how to break addictions, all of those things. That’s my goal when I write a kid a ticket — to change the behavior.”
When she writes a student a ticket, Remington said that she expects the kids to hate her for the rest of the year.
“But that doesn’t happen, it’s how you handle it and how you sell it,” Remington said. “They understand I’m not very happy with what they’ve done, but I’m here for them.”
Remington said she has taken “less than a handful” of kids to be locked up.
“When a kid commits a felony I have no choice,” Remington said.
The hard part of the job, Remington said, is the sad stuff.
“When we lose a kid, when a kid loses a parent,” Remington said. “But that is the time that I really feel like I can make a difference.”
A different type of connection that Remington handles is making sure the schools have what they need; two years ago, none of the schools under Remington’s watch had automated external defibrillators. Remington found resources through connections to donate the $1,500 AEDs. Now, all but two schools have one in their buildings.
“She helps us with issues before they become issues,” Durand said. “She has been to funerals with me, she has been to court with students, she has written tickets.”
She spends two days a week at each of the middle schools, and starting this year she has spent one day a week at each of the elementary schools.
“Boy I’ll tell ya what, if I can do that, I can do this job for the rest of my life. That’s the coolest job, going in and talking to the little guys,” Remington said. “I talk to the kids about a variety of safety issues and I eat lunch with them and I hang out on the playground with them.”
Remington teaches the students about a variety of things like stranger safety, what happens when they call 911, how the criminal system works, drugs and wearing seat belts.
“I’ll teach anything they ask me to,” Remington said, “except math.”
The wall and whiteboard behind the desk in Remington’s office is covered with quotes, photographs, and drawings and cards from students. One picture is from Halloween, where, while still wearing her uniform, Remington was able to dress up for the holiday.
“I get to play that stuff, I get to have fun,” Remington said.
While on hall duty during the middle school passing periods, Remington says hello to students and has conversations with others. She tells one student to “Take care, bud.” He smiles and responds “You too.”
Other cops sometimes refer to Remington as “the kiddie cop,” and sometimes she feels like she doesn’t fit in with her peers in the sheriff’s department or at the school. Law enforcement and education are “totally different things,” she said.
“Some days you miss the streets, some days you will find yourself saying you have the coolest job ever,” Remington said.
One knee of Remington’s uniform trousers is more worn than the other. She said kids often are at first scared of the uniform, so she spends a lot of time on one knee talking to them.
The kids will say they are afraid of “the cops” and she responds by telling them that she is a person too and it hurts her feelings when they say that. She then asks them why they think she is here.
“They say ‘You’re going to arrest me.’ And of course, they don’t mean it, that’s just the thing to say,” Remington said.
She explains to the students that she is not there to arrest them, but to keep them safe.
“I have actually had kids say to me ‘I used to be afraid of cops, but you taught me how not to be,’” Remington said. “And I love that. That kind of stuff it’s like how could I ever not want to be in this job?”