by Joanna Vera | February 20, 2018 8:00 am
Riverside Brookfield High School has recently hired Lane Niemann, a retired police chief from the North Riverside Police Department, as the school’s first safety liaison.
“I was a chief of police. I worked my way up the ranks and I was there for a little over 32 years,” said Niemann.
Niemann had been retired for a month before being hired about three weeks ago to help around the school, doing tasks such as monitoring the halls and the lunchroom.
“I’m very familiar with the students [and] a lot of the staff. I thought it was a good fit for myself, coming from a police chief to my second career here. I think they were in need of a school resource officer, and I filled that need,” said Niemann.
Niemann has met a lot of the students from either walking around the halls or being by the front door before or after school.
“In the last two weeks, [I have met] a lot of [the students]. I went to all the assemblies, I’m there in the morning, during all the lunches, and I’m really getting familiar with all the students,” said Niemann.
Not all the students go up to him for problems. Some students swing by his office in Student Services to have a friendly conversation.
“A couple [students] talk to me in general. A couple of them said that they wanted to go into the military, a couple of them said that they want to be police officers,” said Niemann.
A common experience between all freshmen is getting lost in the halls of RB. Niemann experiences the same feeling frequently during his first year here.
“The numbering on the classrooms is a little difficult at times, but I’m getting a lot more familiar. In my off time, I’ll walk around the hallways trying to familiarize myself. The security does a great job helping me. If I need anything, they’ll guide me,” said Niemann.
Teachers, too, appreciate Niemann’s arrival in the building.
“I think it’s long overdue. I think it’s nice to have a police officer present in the building that’s positive rather than only having police cars come up and think ‘oh somebody’s in trouble.’ This way, it could be someone who has a positive influence and can also help a student if they are not sure what’s happening,” said English teacher Wendy Cassens.
Other staff members, like security guard Marc Ruge, enjoy having him here, too.
“He’s a very nice gentleman, he’s very professional. He’s got experience and we’re very lucky to have him,” said Ruge. “Now that we have Niemann on the staff, if there’s an issue, it’ll be easier to get into the problem right away.”
Ruge also thinks that some of the students don’t understand facets of Niemann’s arrival to the school.
“What some of the students don’t understand is that he has some power. He can write truancy tickets, he can jump right into investigation. Before we would have to go out and ask the officer to come in and police the area, so it’s a win-win situation for us,” said Ruge.
Especially now that Niemann is around the building, some of the students think he’ll keep others in check.
“I think it’s a good idea to have him here. It’s another way of security for the students and hopefully, in a way students see that he’s trying to make the school a safer place,” said sophomore Jennifer Villalobos.
Although the students like his presence in the building, some of them do have other opinions on his arrival here.
“I feel like he was added on because he’s a cop and he would [be able to] enforce more authority, but in all honesty, I don’t think we need him because we don’t really have that many fights,” said junior Ashley Walsh.
Despite the facts that some students question his hiring at RBHS, they still think he will make an impact here at the school.
“[I think] he will be helpful. He was a police officer for so long that it might make kids more nervous to get out of line. I think he keeps the kids in check,” said Walsh.
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