Ernie Whiteman Sr. The Definition of a SRO

Last week I witnessed another colleague retire from MPD….another one that came to MPD years after I did. I guess I haven’t figured out the retirement gig yet! This one was a bit different than others, not because of the years on…..or because of a particular case or incident in their career, but due to the body of work that they accomplished. This retirement was that of Police Officer Ernie Whitemen Sr. Ernie has the distiction of being the School Resource Officer at North Medford High School. This was an assignment that he held for 16+ years out of a 26+ year career.

Ernie was hired in 1988, and spent a good 10 years as a solid Patrol Officer. He leaned towards night shifts, but when the SRO assignment came along, he looked at it as a “three year assignment.” This would be something different, and a way for him to increase his interactive skills with young people. What happend next was not expected…but MPD, NMHS and Officer Whiteman all benefitted from it. He enjoyed this type of work, and became the SRO that other SRO’s would be measured by. It was a very good outcome for all involved. It had a positive impact on students, staff, parents, and the community. School safety took on a much larger role during his time as an SRO. We needed Officers like Ernnie to lead during a time when school safety was unfortunately a common topic. That continues today.

Ernie has been the President of the Oregon School Resource Officer’s Assoc. and has taught at the highest level of his assignment at the National School Resource Officers Association. He set the standard for SRO’s in Oregon and was instrumental in the developmment of emergency response plans for school safety. His work on safety plans and safety drills made schools a safer, better place.

I could go on with additional quality work and accomplishments that Ernie has done during his assignment as an SRO. He had the nuts and bolts of what it meant to be an SRO down. What is even more important though is the work that Ernie did with individual students that he came in contact with daily. As I read some of the Facebook posts and heard some of the oral comments over the last week…it struck me that was the real difference maker. Ernie had an impact on students.

There is that famous quote that “what reallly matters in a person’s life is how they impacted a child’s life.” Ernie can sleep with a smile and sweet dreams knowing that he did make a differecne in several children’s lives as an SRO. He was a mentor. He took the time to listen. He cared about all the students in the 549C District. He was all in as “their Cop.” He made it to all their events…from ballgames to proms to graduation and everything in-between.

We will be unable to replace Ernie, as he was one of a kind. He was a bit softspoken and hid from the limelight, but his impact on those he touched will be felt for years to come. Ernie will be a tough act to follow.

All you can ask of yourself and of others is to work at making a difference. Officer Ernine Whiteman Sr. did that and then some. May the wind always be at your back Ernie!
You deserve all the best that retirement brings your way.
Thanks for making us all better, and making our schools safer.

Tim George
Chief of Police

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