Willcox Police Officer Nicholas Williams has spent four years as a student resource officer.

WILLCOX — Willcox has a newly certified Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer, Nicholas Williams, who has spent four years as student resource officer with Willcox Police Department.

“I’m excited to be bringing that program back into the picture,” said Williams about his upcoming D.A.R.E. classes, which he will teach to fifth- and seventh-graders.

“The SRO has been an essential part of the department,” said Willcox Chief of Police Dale Hadfield, who was hired in 2006. At that time there was no SRO program, and the department responded to over 220 calls for service at Willcox schools within 180 school days. Calls such as this sometimes detained both an officer and a detective, so Hadfield began an SRO to deal with police business at the school.

“We are happy to be able to have an SRO on our campuses,” said Willcox Unified School District Superintendent and Business Manager Kevin Davis. “We have a great relationship with the city of Willcox and the Department of Public Safety. I think the SRO makes the job of our administrators easier, provides a police presence on campus making them more secure and builds relationships with students that couldn’t happen any other way.”

“Originally the (SRO) program taught on D.A.R.E. guidelines until Officer R. Lacey retired in 2017 (and) no D.A.R.E. certified officers were around,” said Hadfield. The system was shelved until this summer, but “Williams is now a Certified D.A.R.E. Officer and will be teaching that curriculum as well as … law enforcement classes through CTED (Career and Technical Education District).”

While D.A.R.E. is obviously anti-drug, Chief Hadfield said, “Over the years the program has morphed and changed … (it) has transitioned from focus on drugs to a broader spectrum, dealing more with bullying, drugs and other social issues.”

“Officer Williams is great,” said Davis. “He also teaches classes on many topics and is our law enforcement class instructor at the high school.”

The CTED law enforcement class is a two-year program for juniors and seniors who are looking toward careers in law enforcement or corrections. Graduates are given a certificate signed by Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. Williams organizes the Color Guard for sporting events and parades and also teaches first- through third-graders to “treat guns with respect” through Eddie Eagle NRA courses.

“I never have the same day twice,” said Williams, who makes sure to occasionally take a break from enforcement and education.

“Sometimes I’ll eat at the elementary school, which is a lot of fun,” said Williams, who will often spend the meal with his wife, Melanie Williams, a special education teacher. He also coaches high school cross country.