Tyrone Dennis brings a unique perspective to his new role as District Safety Officer in Rockwood.
As a police officer and detective with more than 15 years of law enforcement experience, Dennis is well-versed in making the sort of connections that lead to a significant impact on a community. As a Marquette High
graduate, he knows how it feels to be on the receiving end of school discipline.
"It's heartwarming to be back where I started and be able to help another Ty Dennis who might be out there in Rockwood," Dennis said. "I want to help them understand I'm not just speaking to them as an adult. I want them to know that I've been there, done that and was able to pick myself back up. The goal in is to help teach them be a better human being and adult."
Dennis, a St. Louis native, was hired to the newly created position of Rockwood District Safety Officer by the Board of Education in July and started with the district in August. He will be responsible for researching, designing, and implementing a comprehensive district security and safety program; creating and implementing safety and security training for staff; and maintaining district emergency plans and preparations as well as crisis response and recovery plans, among other duties.
One of Dennis' main goals is to be a resource for Rockwood students, staff members and families, as well as a partner for district school resource officers, local law enforcement agencies and other community entities that work with the district.
"Basically, I want to have a relationship where they're on speed dial with me and I'm on speed dial with them," Dennis said. "I was able to be a good detective through my contacts. That's the same thing with this position to try to cultivate those relationships to where we can jump on a problem before it becomes something big."
Dennis served as a patrol officer, criminal investigator and certified gang expert during a 16-year career with the Atlanta Police Department. He created a popular community program called "Clippers and Cops"
that brings police and community members together for conversations in barbershops. Dennis earned a proclamation from the Atlanta City Council for his role in founding the program.
As he acclimates to his new role in Rockwood, Dennis said he has been working closely with Executive Director of Student Services Dr. Terry Harris and the Student Services
staff, as well as Partners in Education Coordinator Emanuel Young. Dennis has also been relying on two of his former Marquette coaches – Shane Matzen and Eric Schweain – as he reacquaints with Rockwood.
Dennis also made it a point to connect with school resource officers and reinforce the important roles they play in the lives of Rockwood students.
"I want to have them as part of the fabric of the schools in which they work," Dennis said. "They're the first line for some of these students to interact with law enforcement. By cultivating those relationships, we can avoid some of the problems we see in the world. Their goal is to interact with the students and make it a better school environment."