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Teacher with a badge: School protection begins with listening and learning

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Posted at 9:00 AM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 09:20:22-04

PALM SPRINGS, Fla.-- Summer reading at Palm Springs Elementary School includes a break for a different lesson.

"I'm here because I want to keep you guys safe, Officer Dane Pena says to a classroom. The Palm Beach County School police officer wants to be a friend.

"It is important because a lot of students view police officers as a bad thing," he says.

Think of Pena as a teacher, with a badge.

"Who do you communicate with first?" he asks a student. The response: "Police."

"If there is an emergency the police can be there and we'd all be safe," says third-grade student Michael.

Pena wants communication, location and safety to be second nature. "For them to remain calm and know what they need to do under those circumstances."

He adds: "Location is not just where they are , but where a safe location is."

The veteran officer once worked as a New York City policeman. He likes this better..

"Is this the favorite beat you ever walked?" he's asked. His answer: "Yes it is. Yes it is."

He says the kids look up to him and when they talk he gets a sense they are paying a lot of attention.

"So when you say something, you better make sure you are saying something to help them," he says.