SEARSPORT — The new school resource officer for Searsport schools is a familiar face, having worked as an officer in the Searsport Police Department for just over a year.

After only a month on the job as Regional School Unit 20 SRO, 25-year-old Colby Leavitt said he is excited about his new position and loves having kids tell him about their day. Many students, he said, have gone out of their way to make him feel welcome.

Leavitt’s time is divided among the three schools that make up RSU 20. Once the school year is over, he will shift to regular patrol duties in the police department.

New School Resource Officer Colby Leavitt greets students Sept. 29 as they arrive for school. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

The Republican Journal spoke with Leavitt Sept. 29 as he greeted students arriving for the school day.

Leavitt said he was hoping to see two students this morning. One had asked him a law enforcement question, the other he just wanted to check in with. On this day, one student walks up to Leavitt for a fist bump and gives him a Snickers bar.

Many times the only interaction students have with police is when a parent is stopped for an infraction, he said. His presence at the school humanizes the role as an officer and creates an important bond, building rapport with students.

The SRO program, now in its third year, is still fairly new in the district. Before Leavitt, Chris McCrillis was the SRO at RSU 20 until he accepted a position with the Bucksport Police Department.

On his plate today, he said, is a truancy check at the elementary school, where he will speak with parents to make sure the student is OK and is not falling behind. He is also planning to stop in at the RISE behavioral program to say good morning to students.

Currently he is also scheduling dates to attend preschool classes, where he reads to students, tells them what it means to be a police officer, and leaves them with lollipops and stickers. Other duties involve walking the halls and conducting safety checks.

“I stop in to classes to say hello,” he said. “I also get asked to talk in classrooms on why there is a police officer in the school.”

Leavitt said he grew up in Bowdoin and started his policing career at the Belfast Police Department in 2018. He later took a job as an officer in Brunswick, thinking there would be more opportunity in a bigger city. He discovered he preferred working in smaller towns, where he could build rapport with the community.

This is his first time working as an SRO, but he said he has many ideas in the works. For the immediate future, Leavitt said, he wants to tackle speeding on Mortland Road by installing flashing speed signs for the area near the school complex. 

He also hopes to implement an after-school program to give students a positive experience in a safe environment before returning home. Leavitt said having a positive activity after school would be a helpful tool in preventing negative student issues. 

Middle and High School Principal Joshua Toothaker has been working with Leavitt to develop new safety measures to assure the safest possible school and also revamping active shooter protocols. 

Leavitt said he is also reaching out to his former colleague, Travis Spencer of the Belfast police, to give a K-9 presentation at the school with Dex, the police dog.

Having recently finished training at the National Association of School Resource Officers, Leavitt said he is now certified as an SRO. He previously received civil rights training, where he learned to  investigate discrimination complaints and also took a 40-hour class on crisis intervention. Both of these courses, he said, are applicable to his current role.

Searsport Police Chief Todd Boisvert said, “I must say that given the current law enforcement atmosphere, as it relates to recruitment, retention and hiring, after a lengthy search that lasted several months, the town of Searsport and RSU 20 were extremely lucky to find someone as committed and dedicated to the position of School Resource Officer as Colby.

“We have found Colby to be energetic and he possesses the perfect mindset for the school atmosphere in dealing with both the positive and negative encounters when dealing with juveniles.”

Leavitt said, “I hope over the years to build solid relationships and be a positive mentor to students.”