Wade agreed and said that was one of his goals at the beginning of the program.
"At the beginning of the year we ran into some kids who thought that the police were bad because that is what they had always been taught and all they had seen on television," Wade said. "Me being here and interacting with them, they are seeing that we are people too. We are out here doing our job and out there protecting them and they can respect that and it gives them a greater respect for the department as a whole."
While both officers have an office in the schools, most of their time is spent interacting with the students and going into the classrooms to conduct open forums with the students, which NPD Maj. John Branscum said was invaluable.
"The forums are pretty laid back and it gives the kids and the officers a chance to sit down eye level with one another and discuss issues that are important to the SROs and the program, but more importantly to discuss issues that are important to the students," Branscum said.
Wade said getting out among the students has taught him as much as it has them.
"It has been a learning experience every day because it is completely different environment even though you're still a police officer and you're still enforcing the same laws, Wade said. "I have learned probably more than I have taught them. It has been a good growth thing for me just learning how to deal with juvenile law and things like that, which will make me a better officer when I am out on the streets."
The officers get together every week with school liaison Virginia Simpson and juvenile court liaison Jackie Horn-Holt to discuss how things are going and issues they need to be aware of, and they also meet with school administrators and other community members on a regular basis.
"Sometimes other stakeholders come in and join us and give us their input and what they are hearing from the community from their side," Wade said. "We like having that input and sitting down and getting to talk to them grassroots style."
Jessamine County Superintendent Lu Young said the program was a win-win situation for everyone.
"Everyone involved, the county, the city and the school district benefit from having the officers in the schools security wise, but in other ways also," Young said. "For the schools, it has provided a peace of mind for the principals and assistant principals every day, and for the city and county, it is breaking down barriers between teenagers and police officers and building a foundation of trust for those agencies."
King said just getting to know the students better and building a relationship between the department has made it all worth while.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed this year and I'm looking forward to next year," King said. "These kids will take this outlook toward police officers with them into their lives after high school, and that can only be a good thing."