Christenson steps into role as resource officer
Each school year brings changes in curriculum, teachers and building updates. This year, Fairmont Area Schools also has a new school resource officer.
Jason Christenson’s friendly face will be seen at both the elementary and high school
He is fairly new to the Fairmont Police Department, having joined last summer, though he is not new to law enforcement. The Granada native graduated from Alexandria Technical and Community College, then began working for the Winnebago Police Department. After several years, he joined the Faribault County Sheriff’s Department, where he was a deputy for 10 years.
Christenson and his wife, Megan (Parnell), are both from the area. The couple have two young children.
Taking on the role of SRO is a welcome change to Christenson. The school’s former SRO, Mike Beletti, got promoted to sergeant over the summer, creating an opening for someone else to take on the position.
“I put in a request for it when it became open,” Christenson said. “It was something I hadn’t done and it’s another opportunity to work with different parts of the community and be involved.”
He said that first and foremost, his priority is ensuring the safety of all students and staff at the school.
“The goal as SRO is for us to ultimately connect a little more with the kids that are enrolled in school in a different aspect and show them that we can be approached,” Christenson explained. “We can make a different connection with kids in school rather than on the street.”
About a decade ago, the school had an SRO. Then, because of a lack of funding and a shortage of officers, there was no one to fill the position for a few years. Fairmont Area Superintendent Joe Brown said that with a growing concern to make sure schools are safe, the city and the school worked together to sign a three-year agreement for an SRO. The two entities split the wages of the SRO 50/50. This is the second year of the agreement.
“I feel like this is an important program to have for a lot of reasons,” Brown said. “I’m going to continue to support the funding of this program.”
“Really, like the title says, I’m a resource for them (students and staff) and they can be a resource for me, whatever comes up whether it’s good or otherwise, we can work together,” Christenson said.
Since he has only been in this new position for about a month, Christenson is still getting the feel of things.
“I’m learning what the school has going on for kids and based on that, what I can help with and be involved with,” he said.
Christenson is working on setting up the Adopt-A-Cop program, which partners police officers with a first-grade class at the elementary school. He sees it as valuable and would like to continue it this school year.
Even though he will spend his days between both schools in the district, Christenson is employed by the Fairmont Police Department. During the summer, he will be back to normal patrol.