SRO named Youth Advocate of the Year
Posted Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 —
When it comes to being a school resource officer, student safety will always be the single most important part of the job. But there’s a lot more to the work than meets the eye.
Ideally, a school resource officer is also a role model, a mentor, and an advocate. For Geneva City School Resource Officer Raul Arroyo, all of that appears to come pretty naturally.
“I had mentors when I was in school—people that I really needed involved in my life, and they had a tremendous effect on my life,” said Officer Arroyo. That experience led him to do the same for Geneva’s youth, and his efforts have not gone unnoticed: Officer Arroyo was recognized for his dedication to children with the inaugural Geneva 2030 Youth Advocate of the Year Award in October.
The award, announced at the Geneva 2030 Breakfast, came as a complete surprise. Officer Arroyo was invited to attend the event by Geneva Police Chief Michael Passalacqua. “I didn’t ask him why,” said Officer Arroyo, admitting he assumed it was a community discussion panel.
Once the award was announced, Officer Arroyo’s wife, daughter and granddaughter came out from hiding. “Seeing my family there, I became emotional,” he admitted.
He was nominated for the award by one of his coworkers, Sgt. Nicholas Bielowicz. “Officer Arroyo not only builds great relationships with the students, but also the parents of each student,” Sgt. Bielowicz wrote in his nomination letter. “I implore any member to shadow Officer Arroyo while he is working at the school to witness the positive influence he has with the Geneva youth.”
He has been a police officer in Geneva since 2006, and a school resource officer in the Geneva City School District since 2012.
“He definitely found his niche when he got into the school setting,” said Chief Passalacqua. School employees and community members alike have praised Officer Arroyo’s efforts, the chief said. “He goes way above and beyond what he has to do because that’s the type of person he is,” said Chief Passalacqua. Officer Arroyo keeps a cabinet full of snacks for students, has been known to drive children to Walmart to buy them shoes, and regularly acts as a Spanish language interpreter, the chief said. “I think that’s why he’s loved so much,” said Chief Passalacqua.
“He is a kind, caring man who puts the welfare of our children first,” said Geneva City School Superintendent Trina S. Newton. “Stand back and watch Raul at a sporting event or walking around our campus—you will see our children flock to him for a hug or encouraging words.”
“Everybody needs to know that he’s a true asset, not only to the school district, but the police department as well,” said Chief Passalacqua. “Geneva is lucky to have him.”
“Treat others how you want to be treated—that’s my biggest message for the kids,” said Officer Arroyo. “I came from a very poor family. I’ve become a very successful person in life, you can do the same thing,” he said. “I love the kids. The one thing I promote is somos familia—we are family.”