DAVENPORT -- Schools here will be adding two new resource officers at intermediate schools in a push to reach younger students.
"I want to see kids be successful," said officer Craig Burkle, on Tuesday, August 14.
Burkle will be serving Sudlow Intermediate School and Wood Intermediate School this school year.
"I want to continue to see the kids move forward and let them realize - hey, we're your friend. We're not your enemy."
This new outreach comes at an important time. Younger kids face more pressures than ever. Officers want to influence students before they get in trouble.
"That allows us to build those relationships over time with these children as they grow and get to those critical teen years," said School Resource Officer Matt Lovelady.
This addition comes six months to the day after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Other incidents closer to home, like the one at Dixon High School, reflect the importance of this first line of defense.
"The kids can give us information," Burkle continued. "Maybe we can get ahead of the game a little bit."
Each officer will divide his time between two schools. Funding comes from the city, school district and a grant.
While the intermediate school years can be confusing and difficult, officers are embracing this outreach to younger students.
"We've got to keep them safe, and we've got to give them a safe learning environment," Lovelady said. "Hopefully, by the presence of us being there, we can accomplish that."
It's a valuable addition, just in time for the start of classes.