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OfficerJimPott1-2-28.jpg.jpgWhen officer Jim Pott of the Sedona Police Department sat down to talk about life as the school resource officer at West Sedona School, he brought some company — a student from the elementary school tagged along with him.

By Tyler Midkiff
Larson Newspapers

When officer Jim Pott of the Sedona Police Department sat down to talk about life as the school resource officer at West Sedona School, he brought some company — a student from the elementary school tagged along with him.

The student was hanging out with Pott as part of a positive rewards program in place at WSS, Pott said.

Once a week, he explained, one of the elementary school students is chosen to spend an hour with Officer Pott. They?re chosen based on their behavior and effort in the class- room, among other things.

?It?s so cool,? Pott said. ?They really look forward to it.?

A big part of his job, he said, is just being available to the kids and interacting with them. He?s been known to play basketball, soccer and other games with them on the playground.

?I try to make myself available to the students all the time,? he said. ?They can come and talk to me about anything.?

He also spends a lot of time in the classrooms teaching classes on everything from safety and health to respect and diversity, he said.

Between teaching classes, working with the administration and talking to the kids about bullying, personal issues and other things that interest them, Pott said he stays busy.

?One of the things that surprised me is how busy I am over here,? he said. ?It?s nonstop. There?s a lot of stuff here at the school that keeps me occupied.?

The new anti-bullying program demands much of his time. He works closely with Assistant Principal Kathie Moore and the school counselor to manage the program, which he said has really caught on with the kids.

Any time students feel they have been bullied or have witnessed bullying in the school, they are encouraged to fill out a bullying report form.

Pott meets with them confidentially to discuss the details about what happened and to find out if there were any witnesses.

After getting as much information as he can, he speaks to the alleged bully.

?Pretty much every time we bring in the kids who have done the bullying, they?re like, ?Yeah, I did it,?? Pott said.

Occasionally, they have a different story, though. Sometimes it turns out to be just a misunderstanding, he said.

The new ?Let?s Get Real? program is another tool for confronting bullying at WSS.

This year?s 6th grade class was the first to participate in the program.

It began with them watching a video of other children from throughout the country responding to off-camera questions about bullying, racial discrimination and gender discrimination.

After watching the video, the kids were asked to discuss similar situations they?ve encountered at WSS. Pott and others encouraged them to think about effective ways to respond to bullying.

They also hope the program will challenge some of the children who bully to recognize the harmfulness of their behavior and work on changing it.

Pott believes the program was beneficial to the students, he said. They plan on repeating it with next year?s 6th graders.

At the SPD, Pott is a member of the mounted patrol unit, which is mainly deployed at community events and Sedona Red Rock High School football games.

A native of Michigan, Pott left Michigan in 1983 to join the Kansas City Police Department in Kansas City, Mo.

He worked patrol in the projects there and was also a member of the Rapid Response Team, which meant he worked from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. responding to dangerous calls.

?Whatever you can think of, I?ve probably been involved in it,? he said. ?It?s nice to be working in this school — away from the violence I dealt with in Kansas City.?

In 2001, Pott moved to Cottonwood and joined the Cottonwood Police Department as a patrol officer.

In 2005, he joined the SPD. He began in the patrol division, but later that year, the school resource officer position became available.

?This is the most rewarding assignment I?ve ever had,? he said.

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