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Taylor Mill's Poynter is School Resource Officer of the Year

The school resource officer at Scott High School in Taylor Mill was named the state's top school resource officer (SRO).

Jimmie Poynter is with the Taylor Mill Police Department.

"I received the packet of information like I do every year," Poynter explained. "The packet has information about nominating the Educator of the Year, and the SRO of the year and it has information about scholarships, so I handed the packet over to the guidance counselor and asked if she would try and match some students up with those scholarships."

Scott teacher and coach Dan Woolley nominated Poynter, who serves as vice president of the Kentucky Association of School Resource Officers, for the honor.

Poynter grew up in Campbell County, and rubbed elbows with police because his mom and dad ran a tow truck/wrecker service, that worked with local departments.

So when Poynter graduated from Highlands in Ft. Thomas, he tried running his dad's business, but realized that was not what he wanted to do. He ultimately ended up in policing.

Poynter's first stop was with Dayton Police, and then Bellevue Police where he worked for more than nineteen years before retiring as a sergeant.

He then joined Taylor Mill Police as a school resource officer.

"I was coming home from my retirement party at Bellevue," Poynter said. "I noticed the ad, and I was interested because I had known Steve (Knauf, the Taylor Mill Police chief) for some time, and I know he takes good care of his officers."

Poynter applied and was asked to come in for an interview. 

Knauf liked what he saw on Poynter's resume, and hired him four years ago.

"SRO Poynter is an outstanding role model for students as he serves and protects both Woodland Middle School and Scott High School," Chief Knauf wrote in his letter supporting the nomination. "During my tenure as chief of police, I have had the opportunity to supervise many school resource officers. However, I have come across none finer, nor more professional, and dedicated to school safety than SRO Poynter."

Poynter loves the interaction with students. 

"There were about 250 of us in the state when I started," Poynter said. "Now there are closer to five-hundred SROs in the state. Schools weren't mandated to have SROs then and they are now."

Poynter is also a lodge trustee for the Campbell County FOP, and helped set up the Cops and Kids program where police officers shop with underprivileged kids at Christmas. 

He is instrumental in the Special Olympics, and the CPOS Fallen Officers' Fund.

Many letters from the Kenton County Superintendent to the principal at Scott, and many teachers and co-workers were sent in to support the nomination of Poynter.

"He goes above and beyond every day to ensure everyone's safety here at Scott High School," said Elissa Baker, cafeteria manager at Scott. "He is always monitoring the students at Scott. He respects the students while holding them accountable for their actions. They know what is expected of them, and that there are consequences for their actions.  What an incredible life lesson to give students that are on the transition of becoming adults!"

She added that even in these trying times, Poynter had reached out to make sure everyone was OK, and offered to help with delivery of meals and homework packets.

"I have personally witnessed Officer Poynter's skills in supporting the safety of our students, working directly with students as a mentor, and with our team in crisis situations," said Dr. Brennon Sapp, principal of Scott High School. "Officer Poynter has an enthusiasm and zeal for his job that is both refreshing and inspiring to those around him.  His dedication is clearly seen in the quality and results of his work."

In his nomination letter, Woolley pointed out that Poynter's presence in the halls every day is a visual reminder to the students, staff, and parents that he is there to keep everyone safe. 

He told of the constant monitoring for safety in the schools, such as making sure doors are locked and giving the teachers and staff a serious talk about what could happen in the event of a school shooter, in no uncertain terms.

Woolley maintained that Poynter not only cares about people on a local level, but is involved with community matters on a state level also, and said that Poynter's efforts are always to make people's lives safer, and better.

Jonathan Moore, social studies department chair, also brought up the daily greeting of Poynter as each day begins, and said many times the officer has donuts for people just to brighten their day. 

He said when Veterans' Day comes around, Poynter is always available to give talks about the Honor Flight program, with which he is proud to assist every year.

Poynter also gives talks in some of the classrooms since Scott has courses in criminal justice, forensics, and emergency management.

One of the programs that Poynter designed and was in the process of implementing was a class in drivers education, but without the practice of driving a car. Poynter said the kids need to know vehicle maintenance, like how to change a tire, and what the lights on the dashboard mean, and checking the fluids. He also thinks they need to know what to do in case a police officer would stop them. 

He believes this also builds trust. 

When the students come back in the fall, he wants to institute the program, since COVID-19 got in the way this year.

Poynter was surprised that he won the state award and when he was able to see the letters of recommendation, he felt humbled.

"When I read the letters, I was really touched," he said. "It was very humbling." 

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor