When retired Onondaga County Sheriff’s sergeant Earl Smith was sworn in as School Resource Officer at Marcellus High School, he said he planned to approach the job like a partnership.
“I’m not gonna go up there with the attitude to scare them,” he told the Observer in September 2010. “I’m gonna go up there with the attitude that they’ll respect me because I respect them. It’s a partnership.”
From Sunday’s graduation ceremony, where Smith was selected by the graduates to speak, it’s clear that he was successful in fostering that mutual respect.
For this, we commend him. We also commend the students for doing their part to forge such a strong relationship.
“This past November, my youngest son, who was 26 years old, unexpectedly passed away,” Smith said in his speech. “These kids expressed their condolences, mailed me cards, and a large number of them even showed up at the wake.”
Smith reflected on telling the students to accept others for who they are, and not how they look, dress or talk. Of all the influences in their young lives, the graduates chose Smith to speak at their commencement, which he pointed out to mean that they listened.
“They apparently listened, because high school kids in general are suspicious of the police,” he said.
As the graduates go on to do great things, we hope they’ll keep Smith’s advice to accept others at the front of their minds.
Chances are they will — because the advice came from someone they grew to trust.