Whether patrolling the highway or the school hallway, some of Cory Eslick's favorite parts of his career in law enforcement have been building relationships with his community and showing the public that police officers are human — just like everyone else.
As he began to prepare for his sixth year going back-to-school — as a school resource officer in Anne Arundel County, Maryland — Eslick thought about the first-day-of-school photos flooding his Facebook feed and decided to try his own take on commemorating his return to the school building.
The photo shows Eslick in his police uniform, holding a chalkboard sign designed by his wife, April, that boasts his favorite food — pizza, what he hopes to be when he grows up — a police officer, and several other bits of information showcasing his favorite things.
"I think people don't get a chance to see police officers as real people, so I wanted to take this opportunity to show people the funny side of myself that a lot of people don't get to see," Eslick told TODAY Parents. "I also hoped it would get around so my students would see it and know that I am not all business, and that it might open the door for a student to feel safe to come talk to me."
It's his relationship with the students of Broadneck High School, where he works on a daily basis, that drives Eslick. In his role as a school resource officer, he keeps his school safe, helps students handle disagreements, and even teaches the occasional class and serves as assistant coach of the varsity softball team.
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"I put on the chalkboard 'I'm looking forward to meeting new friends,' and I meant that," said Eslick. "The best part of my job is the opportunities I have to reach students."
"My goal every day when I walk into the school building is to make a positive impact in a student's life," Eslick continued. "The most important thing about being a school resource officer is developing relationships with the students and showing them that police officers have good days, bad days, hurts and successes just like anyone else. I believe the relationships I build in the schools also help officers on the street have better interactions with students."
Ryan Frashure is the public information officer for the Anne Arundel County Police Department, and says it's examples like Eslick's back-to-school photo that show what an effective and instrumental tool school resource officers are in the school system.
"It takes a special person to work in the school system and they are 110 percent committed," said Frashure. "I think when students see a photo like this, it shows the human side of police officers and that we have a sense of humor. This makes approaching officers easier, thus providing a vehicle to help build meaningful, positive relationships."