Marana officer earns ‘rookie’ honors

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Marana Police Officer Cole Hunter has earned the state’s School Resource Officer Rookie of the Year Award. Hunter will be honored during the ASROA School Based Policing Conference on June 16 at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.

In his role at Marana High School, Hunter promotes positive relations between the police department and students through education and counseling. Along with his normal duties, Hunter has taught almost 200 hours in various courses. Marana High School is one of two Marana Unified School District campuses with a resource officer.

Administrators are happy with the program and Hunter’s performance.

“Not only is Cole exceptional at teaching, he puts an emphasis on creating positive relationships with students,” Associate Principal Earl Armstrong wrote in Hunter’s evaluation. “He is constantly out on campus interacting with kids, building trust. Kids want to be in a safe environment and due to Officer Hunter’s actions, students are advocating for the safety and security of our campus by coming to Officer Hunter and letting him know about situations that may be detrimental to our positive culture.”

Students enjoy having an officer on campus.

“I think the first benefit that takes place, almost immediately, is the feeling of security,” Hunter said. “Students and staff have stopped by my office to express how having an officer on campus and readily available makes them feel safer.”

Because he works on campus, Hunter was tipped off when a student threatened to “shoot up the school” in January. Hunter contacted other officers who apprehended the 17-year-old boy the next morning before he reached campus.

“I was able to reach units directly and brief them while they were en route,” Hunter said. “The suspect arrived at school late and units picked him up immediately as he approached the high school. Had the threat been serious, it would’ve ended before it began.”

Hunter has been with the Marana Police Department for 4½ years.

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