FAULKNER COUNTY For Steve Ferguson, the new school resource officer for the Guy-Perkins and Mount Vernon-Enola school districts, the No. 1 goal is to provide a safe place for students.
“[They need a place] where they don’t have to worry and can concentrate on their school work and being kids,” Ferguson said. “Things today aren’t like they were when I was in school, and kids have a lot to worry about.
“Hopefully, with people like me around, they don’t have to worry if they are going to be safe at school. I take my job very seriously, and I have adopted all of these students as my own.”
Ferguson has been a deputy with the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office for about 2 1/2 years and has been in law enforcement for almost seven. He previously worked for the Greenbrier School District as its school resource officer, and when he made the switch to the Sheriff’s Office, he patiently waited until the SRO opportunity became available.
“When it came up, I put my name in the hat, and I got chosen to do it,” Ferguson said. “I stay in close contact with both districts, and the faculty has my number, and I kind of float back and forth between them.
“They are kind of spread out a little bit, but I try to be around both schools as much as possible. If something comes up where it needs my attention, then I will go directly to that school.”
Stacey Ralls, the Guy-Perkins High School counselor, said the presence of Ferguson on campus will help build a rapport between law enforcement officers, students and staff.
“Officer Ferguson’s specialized training will help us keep our students better informed about the harms of vaping, alcohol and prescription-drug abuse,” Ralls said.
Ferguson was born in Oregon, then lived in California for most of his youth. He moved to Arkansas in 1978 when he was in high school. He graduated from Morrilton High School in 1982 and enrolled in the United States Air Force in 1985, thanks to one of his best friends, who enrolled with him, and the two were eventually stationed together.
“I have always been the person who likes to help out, even at a younger age. I want to do what I can to help,” he said. “While I was in the military, I worked as security police, and that kind of led me into law enforcement.
“It is a passion of mine to help people.”
Ferguson said that while he was in the military, he did work off-duty as a security guard, therefore making the transition into law enforcement even easier. While in the Air Force, he said, he and his friends would spend days building models of military aircraft, and eventually, he would like to get his pilot’s license.
“As an officer, I like the fact that everything is a little bit different every day,” Ferguson said. “I have the opportunity to help anybody who is in need.”
Joe Fisher, superintendent of the Guy-Perkins School District, said Ferguson brings an increased level of security to the district’s staff and students that is crucial during this time.
“We are fortunate to have the presence of both the Guy Police Department and the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office on our school campuses,” Fisher said.
Ferguson, who started as the resource officer Aug. 24, said that despite the restrictions of COVID-19, he is still on campus every day. He said the students are issued masks, sanitization stations are available, and social distancing is practiced.
“I really enjoy helping people and being a school resource officer. I get to deal with younger kids and their issues, and they know I am just a phone call away,” Ferguson said. “I want kids to know that if they have any questions, as law enforcement, I am there to help them, and we are not the bad guys.
“I talk to the kids daily, I have lunch with them, and if they have any questions, I do the best I can to answer them. I want them to understand that they can talk to me or our counselors, and we will help in any aspects that they need.
“I work closely with the schools to do what I can to help out.”
He said the biggest piece of advice he can give to parents is to be involved in their children’s lives and school activities.
“Know who they hang out with, and get phone numbers for their friends,” he said.