After much anticipation, a resource officer has been hired to work with Regional School Unit 20 in all three of the district schools.

Resource Officer Chris McCrillis brings with him extensive experience, having spent 11 years as a Vermont state trooper, five years as a resource officer at Regional School Unit 19 in Newport, and, more recently, working as a patrol officer with the Searsport Police Department since May 1 of this year.

"I was very fortunate to come to the Searsport Police Department," McCrillis said. "Things took off kind of quickly."

On this day, McCrillis was busy setting up his new office in the school and making appointments to visit individual classrooms. He said he would be talking with students about various topics, ranging from internet safety and bullying to drug awareness for older kids.

With the younger kids, he plans on talking with them about his role as a police officer.

"If I can connect with them by reading a book or being a friendly face for them," McCrillis said, "that would be rewarding."

He explained that besides the obvious safety piece, part of his job would be to make connections, not only with the students, but also with parents and the community as a whole, "…and then networking with the police department," he said. "It's all-encompassing. It's valuable."

His position is also about being a mentor, guide and potentially a role model. "That is my mission, too," McCrillis said.

Marianne DeRaps, middle and high school principal at Searsport District School, said, "I am very excited about Officer McCrillis joining our team. He is already a positive addition in just our first couple days."

Principal DeRaps said that having a resource officer who is "so friendly and so present" will help with kids who may have anxieties about school or worry about things that are going on in the world.

"It will add a comfort level to them, as well as providing the obvious safety aspect, which (is) so beneficial," she said.

Searsport Police Chief Richard LaHaye said McCrillis "has been a positive impact from the get-go, and I feel it is only going to get better."

"This is a win-win for everyone," LaHaye said, "for the students, for the Police Department and for the community of Searsport and Stockton Springs."

The position will be split between working half of the year in the RSU 20 schools (elementary, middle and high school) and the other half for the Searsport Police Department.

Once the school year is over, McCrillis will be "absorbed" back into regular patrol in the Police Department, where he will be available to assist the department in any capacity.

Monitoring traffic in the morning, making sure the kids are getting to school safely, visiting students in classrooms, taking part in some of their activities, meeting with kids and teachers at the end of the day, and then making sure they all leave safely: McCrillis envisions a busy day.

"It is a full day, it's a fast day, but it's rewarding," he said.