New officer on campus

By Ayasha Thurman | Features Editor
Officer Mark Wheeling is the new man in uniform on campus. Since August, Wheeling has served as Marshfield’s new School Resource Officer. He has been in the Coos Bay Police Department for six years and was very excited to hear that the position for SRO was available.

“When I first got hired with Coos Bay and they asked me my career goals within the department, one of my first things I mentioned was becoming an SRO,” Wheeling said. “I’ve always had an interest in becoming a school resource officer.”

Wheeling said a SRO typically stays at the school for three years but that time frame can be lengthened or shortened as needs arise. Wheeling hopes to stay at MHS long enough to see the eighth graders graduate.

Principal Greg Mulkey is committed to Wheeling staying as long as the city allows him and sees him as a great addition to Marshfield’s campus.

“He really wants to do what is good for kids, good for our school and good for our community,” Mulkey said.

This is the first time there has been a SRO present on campus from the beginning of the year. Wheeling said he hopes to be a positive influence and resource for today’s youth. He goes on daily foot patrols and deals with drug use, fights, littering, profanity and underage smoking. He wants to create a more positive atmosphere around campus.

“I think he is going to have a positive impact on the students here at Marshfield,” junior Kynetta Tavernier said.

Wheeling also deals with behavioral issues, crimes and violations on campus. He is constantly patrolling the campus with his load bearing vest, which consists of his duty weapon, handcuffs, Taser, pepper spray, notebook, pens, print out of student’s schedules and radio. When needed, Wheeling conducts interviews with students to obtain further information.

Officer Wheeling said he makes frequent stops at the area across the street from the auditorium on Ingersoll Street known as “smoker’s alley.” He hopes to educate students about underage smoking, while also working with Dean of Students Bruce Bryant to make the consequences understood.

“When you have students in sight of other students smoking, it sends a message that smoking is acceptable and it promotes it,” Bryant said. “Although it is done unintentionally.”

Wheeling enjoys being a police officer and has a great deal of experience. This November, Wheeling will be honored with the Medal of Valor for his assistance in a deadly situation involving a mentally unstable man with a knife. Wheeling and his sergeant both deployed their Tasers to remove the knife from the man.

Wheeling also had experience working with teens prior to his SRO position. Senior James Rich said he became familiar with Wheeling prior to him coming to MHS. Rich and a friend had been drinking alcohol and were later spotted smoking outside of North Bend Medical Center by Wheeling. When Rich realized Officer Wheeling was coming back, he threw his pack of cigarettes in the bushes. Wheeling smelled alcohol on Rich’s breath and arrested him for violating probation.

“He made me realize how pointless everything I was doing was,” Rich said. “I was being self-destructive and what I learned from Officer Wheeling was, there is a time and a place.”

Wheeling’s number one priority is keeping the school safe, but Principal Mulkey also thinks that “building a good culture” is important. Often the police officer is viewed as the “bad guy” and Mulkey wants to break that stereotype.

“I don’t come into this job or position thinking that I’m going to make this, you know, huge major change or even reinvent the wheel,” Wheeling said. “I just want to be a resource. The name says it all.”