Meet Barrington's new SRO

Police officer grew up in Riverside and also coaches swimming in Narragansett

By Josh Bickford
Posted 10/15/19

He was a Townie, but now he wears the blue and gold of Barrington High School.

Barrington Police Officer Dave Wyrostek grew up in Riverside and attended East Providence High School. But when local …

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Meet Barrington's new SRO

Police officer grew up in Riverside and also coaches swimming in Narragansett

Posted

He was a Townie, but now he wears the blue and gold of Barrington High School.

Barrington Police Officer Dave Wyrostek grew up in Riverside and attended East Providence High School. But when local schools opened on Sept. 4, Officer Wyrostek became the newest member of the Barrington public school community, serving as the town's new school resource officer or SRO. He even went out and purchased some new Eagles gear that he wears to BHS football games and other events.

Officer Wyrostek, who is a former lifeguard at Scarborough State Beach and currently serves as the head coach of Narragansett High School girls swimming team, said he was very excited to begin his work in Barrington schools.

"I saw this as another opportunity to be in a rewarding atmosphere because of the work I'll be doing," Officer Wyrostek said. "I'm not just in here (the school) to be a disciplinarian. I'm not just in here to be a show of force. I'm here to be a connection for the schools, and that means the kids, teachers, parents."

Barrington Superintendent of Schools Michael Messore said Officer Wyrostek has been a great fit for local schools so far. Mr. Messore said that when he and other school officials began considering a replacement for the district's first SRO, Josh Melo, they were focused on finding someone was student-centered and student-friendly.

"I couldn't be more pleased," Mr. Messore said, regarding the appointment of Officer Wyrostek as the new SRO. "We're very pleased. He's made a conscious effort to become a part of the school community.

"From my conversations with Joe (Hurley, Barrington High School's principal) and others, the students are receiving him (Officer Wyrostek) very well at all our schools."

Officer Wyrostek said that while growing up, he had always wanted to be a police officer, and enjoyed his work as a patrolman in town. But shortly after Officer Melo was promoted to detective, officials started reaching out to other officers to gauge interest in the SRO position.

"I've always wanted to be a police officer," said Officer Wyrostek. "I never imagined myself doing (this). It wasn't a dream of mine, but now that I'm doing it, there's a lot of opportunity in this job. On the road, wearing a police uniform, you are looked at as an authority figure. When you're in here, it's more about that relationship you build between people individually."

Officer Wyrostek said his top priority as SRO is making sure that Barrington's six public schools are safe places for students, teachers, staff and parents … for anyone entering the buildings. His next priority is establishing positive relationships with school communities.

"… it's extremely important to make sure I'm also viewed as someone who can be approachable," he said. "I'm not just a security guard. I'm someone people can talk to. My door is always open, and … since I started I've had kids just walk in and say 'Hi.' It's nothing serious, it's just 'Hey, how are you doing?' And it's been a really fantastic beginning of the year, because I see how Officer Melo, he built such great relationships. Even though I'm the new guy, and I might be a little intimidating because I'm the new guy … they already have that comfortable openness to the police department because of how he did his job."

Officer Wyrostek said he has enjoyed working with Barrington school administrators.

"My relationship with all the administration, principals, superintendent — they all have my personal phone number. So whenever there is an issue, I let them do their job — they're the administrators, they know how their schools work. Whenever there's a disciplinary situation in school, they take care of it first. If there's something that has to do with criminal, police action, that's when they refer to me. I step in. So I'm more of a support system for them," Officer Wyrostek said.

The new SRO said his favorite part of the job is interacting with students, whether that means just sharing a "Hello" in the hallway or cheering side-by-side with them at a football game.

The most challenging part of the position, he said, is trying to work with and monitor all six Barrington public schools at the same time.

"I think the biggest issue I have is that I'm so spread out with all my schools. Luckily on my computer, I have security cameras from all the schools. So even when I'm here (at BHS) I'm still there," he said.

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