Award-winning security officer helps keep Kentridge High School safe

With 2,300 ethnically and culturally diverse students and dozens of administrators and staff, Kentridge High School has a larger population than some towns. “It’s like a mini-city here,” says Dave Fowler, the school’s security officer.

Washington State School Security Officer of the Year Dave Fowler talks with Devin Topps and Alex Ferguson during lunch Sept. 26. Topps and Ferguson are both members of the football team and the Kingsmen.

Washington State School Security Officer of the Year Dave Fowler talks with Devin Topps and Alex Ferguson during lunch Sept. 26. Topps and Ferguson are both members of the football team and the Kingsmen.

With 2,300 ethnically and culturally diverse students and dozens of administrators and staff, Kentridge High School has a larger population than some towns.

“It’s like a mini-city here,” says Dave Fowler, the school’s security officer.

And if Kentridge is like a city, that makes Fowler the sheriff, a prospect that makes him laugh.

“We don’t have anything too extreme here at Kentridge,” he says.

“Everybody knows where the line is,” agrees Principal Mike Albrecht.

Fowler has been holding that line at the high school since 2000, and this year received recognition for his efforts as the Washington State School Safety Officer of the Year for 2008.

“It’s pretty humbling,” said the soft-spoken, but easy-to-smile Fowler. “To be recognized for what you’ve done: It’s a great honor.”

As one of the school’s safety officers, Fowler, 39, spends most of his day patrolling the halls and talking to kids, building rapport.

“They understand I’m here in their best interest,” Fowler says. “I try to be fair with everybody and the kids know that.”

As the linebacker coach with KR’s football program and leader of the Kingsmen – a program he put together to help mentor young black men – Fowler spends a lot of time getting to know students and gaining their respect.

“What I try to do is build rapport with the students so when there’s times of conflict and strife in which I am called in, I have laid the groundwork,” he says.

The work allows Fowler to combine his love of sports with his degree in criminal justice from Alabama State.

On a typical patrol of the school on his way to the cafeteria for the lunch periods, Fowler talks to kids, encouraging them to get to where they are supposed be (hint: it’s not the hallway) and sharing a smile or a joke.

The students seem to know and respect him and several come up and talk to him, either about the Kingsmen, the football game or just to share a joke.

“It’s a constant presence around the campus,” he says of the secret to his job and the rapport he has built with the Kentridge student body. “Being a role model and mentoring students is just my job, 24/7.”

In the letter he wrote nominating Fowler for the award, Albrecht called him “the best school security officer I have had the privilege to work with,” adding that Fowler is “extremely conscientious, caring, ethical, enthusiastic and hard working.”

“He’s just outstanding. He’s what you’d want in a security officer,” says Albrecht, whose tenure at Kentridge is only a year longer than Fowler’s.

Fowler’s proudest achievement is his work with the Kingsmen.

The group is named as an homage to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: ”King’s men.”

Fowler says the purpose of the group is to give young black men a place to go to discuss their issues and learn ways to model good behavior to help break through stereotypes.

“What we try to do is instill leadership qualities into these young men,” he says. “We try to give them ways to deal with different things, different approaches.”

Devin Topps and Alex Ferguson, both 17, are members of the group as well as football players for the school. Both credit Fowler with being a great influence on them.

He’s a good guy,” says Topps, a junior. “He’s been a big influence on me in my three years here at Kentridge.”

“He keeps us out of trouble,” agrees Ferguson, a senior, adding that Fowler is always there if the boys need someone to talk to.

“That’s my biggest accomplishment,” Fowler says of the club.

Fowler, who also was the 2006-2007 district safety officer of the year, sad the award was nice, but more importantly, he loves his job and loves being able come to Kentridge every day.

“I’m always in a position to help somebody,” he says. “I love what I do and that’s what makes it easy.”


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