Perham Public Schools and the Perham Police Department have named Manny Reyes the School Resource Officer for the 2023-24 school year. While many districts are opting to suspend the program at this time due to changes in legislation, both parties agreed that it was a mutual benefit to continue the program. The new law drawing a lot of scrutiny restricts the ability for district staff, including School Resource Officers, to place students into certain holds. Those include putting a student face down on the ground, or putting weight on their head, throat, neck or chest.
“While our desire is most certainly to see a change with the law, we mutually feel this new law and its restrictions do not outweigh the numerous positive contributions and security that Manny will provide our staff, students and community,” Perham Public Schools Superintendent Mitch Anderson said. “We have discussed workarounds in the event a situation occurs, such as calling in another officer to handle a situation that escalates to this level. Non-SRO police officers would not fall under the same restriction as the SRO or our school staff.”
Overall, Reyes is familiar with the Perham Public Schools system; he and his wife have seven kids, five of them currently in Perham Public Schools. Reyes has been a police officer for three years, with two of those coming in Perham. He said he is excited for the opportunity to connect with the students.
“I know Perham has never had an SRO in the history of its schools,” Reyes said. “I am excited to be the first one, the future possibilities and I’m looking forward to it.”
Reyes has taken an exciting path to Perham. He served in the military for seven years, which allowed him the opportunity to live in many different places such as Arizona, Texas, and Colorado, before settling in Perham. Reyes said he wanted to fulfill the role of helping people out, which led him into law enforcement. While he was a member of the military, Reyes volunteered his time with the youth and received the Volunteer Achievement Medal through the military.
“I have always been passionate about working with kids,” Reyes said. “As a Police Officer, I wanted to impact the lives of the youth. When this role came about, it was right up my alley, and it was something I wanted to do.”
Reyes said he has a few goals in mind as he gets ready to start as the first SRO for Perham Public Schools.
“Hopefully, I will be able to mend the gap with what the youth see in social media and what we really are,” Reyes said. “At the end of the day we are all just humans. Social media depicts us as robots and how we do things. Hopefully, I can bridge that gap and let the youth see there is a lighter side to police work and that we are not just out here causing fear in everybody.”
Reyes said it is huge knowing that he will be having an impact on the kids and the youth in Perham Public Schools.
“I feel that is something that has been very passionate with me, since my time in the military and that is something I look forward to in this new role and I am very excited about it,” Reyes said.
Another aspect that played a role in Reyes pursuing the SRO position was the fact that five of his seven kids are currently in the school system, and it said that soon all seven will be in the district.
“That was a huge part, being able to interact with my kids and making sure they are safe was kind of big in the decision to apply for this position,” Reyes said. “It wasn’t the main factor in my decision making, but it was a big part.”
Reyes emphasized that he was excited to get to work with this position and bring positivity with the position. Reyes was introduced to the faculty during the first day for teachers on Aug. 29 and will start with students at the start of the new school year.