I am Decatur #8


Matthew Damico started working as a patrol officer in Decatur in 2009. He eventually transitioned to his current position as a School Resource Officer (SRO). His past experience working with troubled youth made him the ideal candidate to work with the students in the City Schools of Decatur. “Each one of those communities has a specific need. With the youngest students, I’m present to be a positive role model, create exposure, and help them form as little citizens. Middle school students rarely engage in criminal conduct, but they often have issues where they need support. In the high school, the overwhelming majority of students are fantastic young people, but everyone makes mistakes. One of our goals is to act as a liaison between the police department, the school and the community, to not treat every criminal act simply as the criminal act but to look at it from a holistic approach.”

Officer Damico‘s success and popularity amongst the students is a result of long-term relationship building that occurs over the years. “One needs to take the opportunity to plant the seeds for a positive relationship. You can’t rush it. I take every child’s safety and wellbeing to heart. I prefer my children to make mistakes when they’re young. Nothing can’t be fixed at this stage. I want them to leave our community at 18, ready to be healthy members of society.”

Officer Damico advises his charges to, “Be mindful. Don’t get hung up on long-term distant points. Just focus on being healthy, happy and successful today. If you take care of today, tomorrow’s going to be all right.”

One of the challenges that Officer Damico faces is that police officers are often pre-judged. “Before I get out of the car, people have already decided what my feelings are regarding race, gender, ethnics, politics, and that’s difficult. I really want people to see me as an individual.”





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