FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Over 74,000 students headed back to school at Fresno Unified Monday.
Officer Todd with the Fresno Police Department and it's also his first day of school and he'll be making friends with students and helping out on the campus of Scandinavian Middle School as he roams the hallways.
"Good morning guys! You ready for the first day?" he asked the class.
"Their first day is going to be spent as soon as the kids get to school," Rodney Cancio with the Fresno Police Department said. "They're going to see the officer standing at the gate saying, 'Hi.' During the initial assembies, officers will be present, some will be talking about what to expect from the officers."
This year, all of Fresno Unified's Middle Schools are being assigned a police officer.
"I think it'll make the campus a lot safer for the kids," parent Randy Jones said. "The kids will feel safer coming to school leaving school."
Superintendent Michael Hanson said school resource officers have already been a valuable asset to all of the district's high schools so it made sense to bring officers to middle school campuses when a new federal funding opportunity came along.
"A lot of crime gets solved that happens off campus because of the relationship between law enforcement with students on campus and we just happen to be able to get a grant that was very little cost candidly for Fresno Unified and it allowed us to expand the program," Hanson said.
The officers are school and neighborhood resource officers which means they'll spend half of their time here on the school campus and the other half in the surrounding neighborhood.
Cancio said that they'll work hard to create safe streets for the students as they walk to and from school, while also developing positive relationships with the kids.
"We don't want them to fear us," he said. "We want them to come to us when they have problems or are in trouble. We don't want them to not come to us because of some negative perception they may have been given."
The officers have already been hard at work this summer to encourage a positive sense of community.
"We've been working in the communities," Cancio said. "We've been at several block parties we've been at national night out so we're introducing ourselves to the community and working forward to working with them this year."
In a separate move, Fresno Unified said it is also placing a police chaplain at all elementary schools to continue to cut down on behavioral and other issues on campuses.