By EMMALEE C. TORISK
Monday marked Stacy M. Karis’ first official day as the village’s newest full-time police officer.
Beginning in August, the 26-year-old will also serve as the district’s first school-resource officer, acting as a liaison between the K-12 school and the police department.
“It’s a new program that we have the opportunity to mold any way we can. I’m looking forward to starting new,” Karis said. “I’m up to the challenge, and I’m confident we can make this work.”
From February through May, Karis participated in a school-resource officer trial program within the district. Although she was in the school for just a few months, the response from students, administrators and teachers was “phenomenal,” she said.
Her goal for the upcoming academic year is to continue this momentum and become friendly with the district’s students, establishing herself as someone they can trust if they’re experiencing problems at school or at home.
“Safety is our No. 1 concern with these children,” said Karis, who added that she’s already spoken to students about the dangers of texting while driving. “Teaching them, educating them and making them aware is what we want to do.”
Even since school has been out for the summer, she’s been approached by students while out on patrol.
“The best part, I think, of all this is those kids knowing me outside of school,” Karis said. “They approach me, and they want to talk to me. We don’t want them to be afraid of police. We want them to know that you can trust authority.”
Karis, who lives in Struthers, has worked in Lowellville for two years as a part-time police officer, and will continue to do so, albeit on a full-time basis, on school breaks.
A 2005 graduate of Springfield High School, Karis earned her associate and bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice from Youngstown State University in 2010.
Her salary and benefits as a full-time police officer and the district’s school- resource officer total $48,000, with $33,000 covered by the school district — $23.08 an hour for eight hours a day, 180 days each year — and the remaining amount covered by the village, said Mayor James Iudiciani Sr.
“School-resource officers are more than just police officers in schools,” he said. “They help bring the village and the school community together.”