Don’t let Stephanie Druktenis’s tough attitude, arm tattoos and impressive side arm fool you; she is a momma bear when she enters the doors of any of Ellensburg’s schools.

Druktenis is starting her first year of a three-year rotation as the School Resource Officer for the Ellensburg School District.

Druktenis is one of six police officers originally hired by the Ellensburg Police Department in 2008 with funds from the passage of the three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax. The tax helps fund police agencies throughout Kittitas County and unless it is passed again, it will expire in 2020.

According to Dan Hansberry, Captain of the Ellensburg Police Department, the department campaigned heavily to use that money to put more boots on the ground.

“We said we would use some of that money towards creating a school resource officer position because, up until then, there wasn’t one,” Hansberry said. “Over the past 12 or 13 years that we’ve had a school resource officer in the school, we’ve had several incidents where students have reported something to that officer.”

Hansberry believes it was that familiar face that made students feel comfortable enough to make those reports.

“That might have not have happened to a police officer they didn’t have a connection with and so there’s a lot of value there,” Hansberry said.

Druktenis is in her 10th year as a police officer and has worked mostly patrol before transitioning into this role as School Resource Officer. According to Druktenis, the change of assignments has released a protectiveness within her she had not expected.

Durktenis said, “Their safety is my responsibility and so that weighs heavy. Just like my own kids, when I go somewhere, I make sure everybody’s OK, you know, do they have everything they need. And so when I see a kid here who isn’t eating lunch, who doesn’t maybe have the right clothes that they should or looks sad or upset, just like I do with my own kids, I say, ‘I have some snacks!’ Or I ask,‘Is there something I can get for you?’ ‘Do you have the food that you need?’ ‘Do you need a sweatshirt?’ I didn’t anticipate the mom cop in me to come out so strong.”

PATROL BACKGROUND

Druktenis believes her background as a patrol officer has influenced how she interacts with her students. All those years of going into other people’s homes helped pull back a curtain revealing first hand some of the struggles and life styles some of her students may be living through today. Druktenis believes those experiences have made her a better person, a better police woman and a better resource officer.

“Sometimes the kids just come in to get snacks at lunch,” she said. “Others want somebody to talk to and sometimes that person is me. Some kids might be struggling and having a hard time. Some kids might have had adverse childhood experiences and just want to reach out.”

In addition to patrolling and establishing trust, Druktenis also serves as a resource for special services.

According to Druktenis, police can connect students with mental heath services, including counseling within the school, or informing students of food bank options. Druktenis also explained some students who walk into her office have very innocent questions. Sometimes they just want to know how law enforcement works or what constitutes as a crime.

Every morning, Druktenis stands guard as students enter EHS school doors. She makes a point to make eye contact, smile and ask each student she greets how their morning is going. Unbeknown to the students, behind her broad smile is a little worry about their well-being, similar to what you’d find in any parent.

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