Strengthening the police-student bond

School resource officer strives to give Grafton youths someone they can count on

GRAFTON POLICE OFFICER Tony Alfonsi became the Grafton School District’ school resource officer in January. He said he wants to humanize the relationship between students and police and help students in need. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

Grafton police officer Tony Alfonsi has been making an impression among students since he became the Grafton School District’s school resource officer in January.

“I want the students to know that I’m here to help you and support you,” he said. “I’m not here to catch you guys.”

Alfonsi, 36, joined the local police department 14 years ago. He replaced Dan Radtke as the school resource officer after Radtke retired last year.

Supt. Jeff Nelson and Grafton High School Principal Scott Mantei said it’s important to have a police officer in school buildings as much as possible.

“It is vital and necessary to have a professional officer from the Grafton Police Department inside our schools,” Nelson said. “Officer Alfonsi wants to take care of our students and help them grow as adults.”

Mantei agreed.

“When we interviewed Officer Alfonsi, we knew immediately that he cares about our students. He is younger than most school resource officers, and we think that is a benefit to our district because he can engage students on a different level,” he said.

Alfonsi has an office at the high school but will be in each of the district’s buildings each week to interact with students and staff. Since joining the district, Alfonsi has been teaching students about the dangers of distracted driving, drugs and alcohol and coaching the teachers in the event there is an active shooter.

“There’s been a lot that I have been learning since I’ve started working with students,” Alfonsi said. “Kids can teach you a lot of things, and they inspire me to learn more. It’s not just police-related topics, but just life in general. I learn about their family relationships and friendships among their peers, and that has really helped me grow as an officer.”

Alfonsi said it is an important time to address the relationship the public’s relationship with police and he wants to help humanize cops.

“We are just like you. We know people can be intimidated or afraid when talking to a police officer, but we are all on the same side,” he said.

“There are a lot of things police officers do that go unseen that benefit the greater good, like unlocking cars for people who forget their keys inside the vehicle or helping kids get across the street.”

In order to humanize his role, Alfonsi is doing a social experiment among the students by wearing civilian clothes.

“I started wearing regular clothes after spring break. I noticed some of the kids who wouldn’t make eye contact with me before were starting to say hello,” he said. “It’s little things like that, which make a difference in both of our lives. I don’t want the students to be afraid of me.”

Alfonsi added that he wants to help parents learn to interact with their children during difficult times.

“I’m a father myself, and I understand how it can be with your kids when they are going through a difficult time,” he said. “I think it is really important to treat your kids as adults and help motivate them.”

About 70% of Alfonsi’s job involves working in Grafton schools and the remainder involves patrol duties in the Village of Grafton.

In December, an intergovernmental agreement between the Grafton School District and the Village of Grafton was approved to pay for the resource officer position.

Police Chief Jeff Caponera said the relationship between the village and his department is crucial to protecting and educating students.

“Having an officer inside your schools is critical,” he said. “Officer Alfonsi is our guy to keep your kids safe and to educate them on what is going on in all matters of life. We are proud to have him as a member of our department and in the schools. He is a role model not only to students but also us as cops.”



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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