Get to know your SRO Sergeant — Sgt. Joshua Oliver
Name: Sgt. Joshua Oliver
What is your role within the district?
I'm the School Resource Officer Sergeant and my role is to oversee and manage all safety and security operations for the district.
What city do you live in?
Where did you go to high school?
I graduated from Red Oak High School in 2001, but I also went to elementary school and middle school in Waxahachie. So, I still have Waxahachie in my blood.
Tell us about your family.
Jennifer is my wife; she's actually a speech therapist for the school district and has been cumulatively for about 10 years. It was really interesting when we were in college because she found a job at the school district as a speech therapist, and that's what brought us back to Waxahachie. We have one son named Conner, and he goes to school in Maypearl. He's in fifth-grade.
What is your background in assisting people with mental health issues?
When I went to college, I ended up going to grad school and getting a master's degree in marriage and family therapy. I ended up doing a lot of therapy in grad school and clinic work, and in fact, when I got out of grad school, I went to work for the Texas Baptist Home here in town. There I was a case manager and oversaw teenage girls' and boys' homes. That was my first experience working full-time with kids, and I loved it.
With the police department, in February, we just certified every single one of our police officers as mental health peace officers, and I was the instructor for that. One of the things that I'm really hoping to do is train all these security officers in mental health.
So, do you work for WISD or Waxahachie Police Department?
I've always worked patrol and have worked my way up in the ranks over the past 11 years. I'm still with the police department. I left there as their patrol sergeant with the police department, and I'm still a Sgt. with the police department, I'm just overseeing the school division and SROs.
Right now, we've had two Waxahachie Police officers specifically assigned to the school district, and in addition to those two guys, next school year, we're adding three to that so we'll have five total SROs plus me. They handle anything criminal. In addition to that, we have the 20 security officers that work for the district.
Our vision is for the Waxahachie Police Department to become a recognized leader in public safety by partnering with the community, and I think this is one of the best ways to do that. What better way to get involved with your community than working with the kids."
What is the responsibility of an SRO?
The approach that we use is really cool. It's called the "SRO Triangle." The most obvious part of it is the law enforcement side — we want to protect our kids, it's our job. There's another side of it, and it's the teaching side of things, and then there's this counselor side where we want to build relationships with the students. When all of those come together, you can be a real mentor to these kids. For me, it all comes back to making an impact on these lives.
What was it like starting week one of Covid-19?
Here's the thing, I was all laid back about to start. Erik Kyle has been with the district for 15 years and has laid a foundation of safety here, and I thought day one I'm going to slide in business as usual. It's been really wild starting in this position at this time, but I've got a great team that knows what they are doing.
What are you responsible for?
You have your usual police stuff, and then day-to-day, you have to have a police supervisor that approves paperwork and other managerial things. And then at the same time, it's the director of safety hat organizing the school security officers and working on their schedules, making sure overtime spots for events are filled, budgets and training.
What is your message to students?
Don't be scared of us as police officers; don't be intimidated by us. We are people. We want to be in the schools and have a good relationship with you, so let's get that started on a good note instead of getting to know each other when you're in trouble. We are in the schools because we like kids and working with the students.
What are your hidden talents?
I'm really big into music. I play the trumpet and guitar, and in fact, I lead worship at my church on Sundays. I really like music.
Did you always want to be a police officer?
Here is a funny story. I was a kid playing in the front yard of my house in Waxahachie, and a police officer pulled up. They would drive by, and I would always try and get them to turn on their lights, and one guy actually pulled over and handed me one of those badge stickers that we hand out to all the kids, and that was the day I knew I wanted to be a police officer.