Tukwila Police Officer Charles Saguil hopes to bridge the gap between law enforcement and youth in his new role as the school resource officer at Foster High School.
Saguil, who was previously assigned as a night patrol officer in the department where he has worked for more than three years, started the new position on Jan. 2. He replaces Adam Balcom, who was recently promoted to sergeant. Saguil was one of three officers to apply for the position.
He had applied for the school resource officer position two years ago to replace Lisa Harrison, who had been in the role 17 years, but Balcom was selected.
“I didn’t really know what an SRO was in high school because I didn’t really see them or anything,” Saguil said. “It wasn’t until I (applied) that first time that I really started to understand what was going on. In the last two years, I have kind of been job shadowing Adam.”
Saguil hopes to be a role model or mentor to students.
“Just in my own personal life, my dad wasn’t around, so I had coaches and teachers that were very influential to me,” he said. “I thought in this position I could do the same and kind of give back and police in a different way.”
While he will miss working patrol, Saguil said his new role is important.
“I think I am doing proactive police work in a different way,” he said. “I am not catching in-progress crimes, but I am deterring the future crimes.”
The role of school resource officer has three main duties, Saguil said. The first is as a law enforcement officer for the school responding to any crimes that may happen on campus. The second is as an informal counselor or mentor.
“I am just another outlet for kids who may not feel comfortable talking to teachers or security officers, just someone else who is part of the school but not really working for the administration,” he said.
His third role is as an educator.
“Sometimes teachers will pull me in,” he said. “I have already had one teacher ask me to come in and do a presentation on the Fourth Amendment.”
Saguil hopes to use social media to reach more students.
“I can meet a lot, but it is obviously hard to meet everybody,” he said. “If you look around in the cafeteria, everybody is on their phone. I am hoping to get (on) Facebook and have them see me without the badge. A lot of times they just know me in my uniform, but there is so much more, to not just me, but any officer.”
Saguil would like to help coach sports at the high school as another way to connect to students but also because he is passionate about sports.
“I have tried to help out here in the past, but just because of my work schedule – I was working nights and 12-hour shifts – it was just hard,” he said.
Last year, Saguil, along with eight others from the police department, participated in the World Police and Fire Games in Los Angeles. Saguil brought home gold medals in Greco-Roman wrestling and submission grappling and a silver medal in freestyle wrestling.
He is already preparing for the 2019 World Police and Fire Games in Chengdu, China.
In 2016, Saguil competed in the U.S. Police and Fire Championships in San Diego and took first place in the submission grappling heavyweight division. He was the only competitor from Tukwila that year.
Another outreach Saguil wants to use to reach students is the Bulldog Academy, an after-school program that Balcom began last year to teach students about law enforcement.
For now, Balcom is still running the Bulldog Academy.
“Hopefully in the future, as I learn how that process works and what actually goes into it, I will probably be taking it over.”
Even though Balcom is in a new role, he is still involved in the school.
“I have had a couple of people comment on how (Balcom) built such a good foundation on building relationships that my role is going to be easier just stepping in and continuing what he is doing,” Saguil said. “He hasn’t really left me hanging. If I need something from him, I can call him.”
For the time being, Saguil is also serving as the police department’s transport officer, bringing those in custody to court on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“An officer needs to go pick people up from Seattle or Kent and bring them to (municipal) court,” he said.
As school resource officer, Saguil is assigned to the department’s Community Police Team, so when school is not in session he will help out that unit.
During the summer, he will attend training and conferences for school resource officers.