CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Trust between police and the people they serve is one of, if not the, most important part of the job. It’s something CMPD and CMSPD has been working recently to improve.
One Charlotte Mecklenburg School resource officer is making it his mission to build the foundation for that trust at a young age.
Officer Carlos Valentín is a friendly face in the hallways and classrooms of Collinswood Language Academy. He speaks English and Spanish. His job with CMSPD is to keep students safe.
“If they happen to see a stranger on campus without a pass for them to let an adult know,” Officer Valentín said.
A bulletin board on the wall reveals his deeper purpose. It reads ‘Mi amigo el policía.’
“Not only what they see on TV as far as making arrests but we are also friendly human people that care about the community,” Officer Valentín said.
Collinswood draws many students from Hispanic and Latin American backgrounds.
“They see them as an authority that punish people so we wanted to change that image so we wanted to start in Kindergarten so that image is going to last,” Kindergarten teacher Jacqueline Saavedra said.
Valentín wants to change the narrative by giving them a view of police they might not get at home.
“They shouldn’t fear us, they should engage actually and that’s part of the job too to build relationships with them.”
He's hard to miss.
“When they walk in the school sometimes he’s the first person they see and it’s a great way to start the day,” third grade teacher Alex Kern said.
He’s offering friendship and peace of mind.
“If someone else is around that’s not a good person, he could protect us,” third grader Jackson Daniel said.
He’s protecting and serving.
“We’re just people we just happen to wear the uniform,” he said.
He says students sometimes tell him they want to become police officers. He encourages them, especially with departments always in need of bilingual officers.