By Cole Zercoe for PoliceOne BrandFocus
When school useful resource officer Mark Dallas returned to Dixon Excessive School on the primary day of the brand new educational yr, it was simply a few months after a capturing throughout commencement apply had put him and the Illinois excessive school within the nationwide highlight.
School useful resource officer Mark Dallas has been acknowledged nationally for stopping a shooter intent on inflicting hurt at Dixon Excessive in Illinois. (courtesy picture)
Issues had modified. He locked extra doorways throughout school hours than he used to. He modified his patrol to be extra unpredictable. He carried extra gear than he did earlier than.
Dallas had all the time felt a deep sense of duty for the greater than 700 youngsters who attended Dixon Excessive, however that too, was totally different now – there was a gravity to it that hadn’t been there beforehand. Even the school itself had modified, within the type of a multi-million greenback renovation. However the college students hadn’t modified. They have been the way you’d usually anticipate them to be on the primary day of class: excited.
“I don’t think the incident has been a distraction for them,” Dallas stated. “The first week, we had extra counselors and no one utilized them. So the counselors think we’re doing well.”
Though Dallas attributes the resilience on show throughout that important first day again to the joys of seeing the in depth enhancements to the school’s amenities, there was one thing else that undoubtedly factored in.
When the scholars and school returned to Dixon Excessive in August, there have been no memorials, no candlelight vigils, no moments of silence. As a result of of Dallas’ speedy response to the sound of gunfire on Might 16, 2018, these college students and school have been saved from tragedy.
A LONG HISTORY OF SERVICE
With over 20 years in regulation enforcement, Dallas has a lengthy historical past of being each warrior and guardian. He’s served in a wide selection of regulation enforcement roles, together with tactical rifle marksman, vary teacher and juvenile officer. He’s spent the bulk of his profession as a Okay-9 handler in Dixon, about 100 miles west of Chicago, the place he grew up. He liked working with police canine, however the nature of the job meant that he didn’t get to spend a lot of time at residence together with his son and daughter.
“I was away quite a bit,” Dallas stated. “I missed a lot of things, a lot of opportunities to spend with the kids.”
Whereas he was working together with his second canine with the Dixon PD, he was given the chance to turn into an SRO at Dixon Excessive School – the identical school he himself had graduated from in 1987. Along with giving him extra time together with his youngsters – each at residence and on the school, the place Dallas’ son was beginning his freshman yr – it was additionally the chance to work intently with different youngsters. The truth is, it wasn’t the primary time he’d thought-about a profession in a school setting: He initially needed to be a historical past instructor.
“I was getting older, and the dog was getting older, so I was glad I got offered the SRO position,” Dallas stated. “I actually got to spend a lot more time with my own kids.”
FROM THE STREET TO THE CLASSROOM
Getting in, he wasn’t positive what to anticipate within the transition from road to classroom. Removed from the “retired on duty” job that some cops unfairly understand it to be, serving as an SRO is complicated and requires enjoying quite a few totally different roles with youngsters and school. Dallas underestimated how difficult it might be.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this is a harder job than I ever thought,’” he stated. “It’s more of the counseling side as opposed to the criminal law side.”
Along with his duties as a guardian to the school, Dallas places on many hats throughout a mean week – counselor, mentor, coach, instructor. In at some point, he might deal with a mum or dad grievance, handle a felony situation with a scholar, assist train a driver’s ed or well being class, run lockers with a Okay-9 and coach one of the sports activities groups.
“I like building relationships with my kids, the students. They get mad when I call them ‘my kids’ because they think they’re young adults, but they still act like kids,” Dallas stated, laughing. “I like building that relationship so they know that not every cop is out to get them. In our town that’s really helped. We’ve had an SRO in our school system since 2000, and it didn’t take us long to learn that the program was working for the students.”
When he’s not on the school, he’s serving to his colleagues at Dixon PD on the road.
“I’ll help the patrol shift – they can sometimes get busy right after school lets out,” Dallas stated. “But they do not want me to leave the school unless I have to.”
‘DAD WAS PISSED’
When Dallas heard the popping sounds close to the gymnasium on that fateful day in Might, he knew precisely what they have been.
“I was praying it was a senior prank, some fireworks,” he stated, “but I’ve been around firearms my whole life. I knew.”
It was a typical day for three-quarters of the scholars. However the seniors, who’d already completed their courses 5 days prior, have been again on campus within the health club to follow their commencement ceremony. It was the category that Dallas felt probably the most related to – he had began the SRO job on the similar time they have been beginning as freshmen, and he’d watched them develop up earlier than his eyes. His son was half of the graduating class. So have been three of his colleagues’ youngsters. His youthful daughter and his spouse had simply left the school moments prior. This was private.
Dallas instantly situated the gunman, who was headed towards the health club the scholars have been working towards in. As Dallas pursued him, the gunman rotated and fired a number of photographs at him.
“Not one time did I ever think of taking cover or disengaging,” Dallas stated. “I was in my plain clothes uniform. I wasn’t wearing a vest or anything. I still pursued him. I didn’t care. I was angry that it was happening in my school. I’m dad to 775 students, but the 182 students that were in that gymnasium, I’m really their dad. And dad was pissed.”
It was over shortly. Dallas returned hearth after which took the wounded suspect into custody. Nobody else was harm. He credit his coaching for his potential to prevail that day.
“It was training that popped in,” Dallas stated. “I’m amazed by how fast the brain works with the things you’re taught. I was running case law, everything through my head when I was chasing him. And then when he turned and shot, my brain switched from case law to marksmanship training.”
Many tears have been shed within the hours and days following the capturing. Commencement day was notably emotional.
“I went in there and – I got all my tears out before I went into the public arena – and gave each one of them a hug or a high five,” Dallas stated. “And we all shared some tears, and then we enjoyed the rest of the day.”
Regardless of how ready Dixon Excessive School was for an lively shooter, Dallas by no means thought it might occur there. It’s a lesson he needs all LEOs to take to coronary heart.
“As much we’ve trained with our kids, I honest to God never ever thought it would happen. Not one iota,” Dallas stated. “If you think it could never happen at your school, you’re wrong.”
‘JUST DOING MY JOB’
Within the months because the incident, Dallas has acquired an avalanche of reward and awards. Over the summer time, as he took on numerous regulation enforcement duties, he turned considerably of a movie star, with many residents approaching him for a hug or to shake his hand.
“My guys – law enforcement – obviously we all like to joke around,” Dallas stated. “The guys I work with would give me a hard time and want to take selfies with me and ask for my autograph, stuff like that, because the general public would do some of that in front of them. So it was humbling, I guess, and nice. But it also gave more ammo to the guys I work with!”
Regardless of the eye, he doesn’t think about himself a hero – he’s simply grateful he was there to guard the youngsters of Dixon Excessive.
“I’m a cop, and I was doing my job that day,” Dallas stated. “I’ve been asked if I consider myself a hero quite a bit, and I always respond with a line from Dick Winters from [TV series] ‘Band of Brothers.’ When his grandson asked him if he was a hero in the war, he said, ‘No, I served with a company of them.’ And I serve with a bunch of heroes – every day these cops do their jobs, and they’re all heroes.”
Concerning the Writer
Cole Zercoe is the senior affiliate editor of PoliceOne, chargeable for writing and modifying information articles, unique columns, product articles and commerce present protection. From the newest police applied sciences and improvements to the rising threats cops face within the digital age, his options concentrate on the complexity of policing within the trendy world.
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