Patrolling the Halls to a Mixed Reaction: Sergeant Todd Joins the Wilton Jr./Sr. High School Staff


“My name is Todd Johnson, and I am a Sergeant (Sgt.). I prefer to be called Sgt. Todd. Although it’s a title, it’s more personable. I’ve been an officer for 27 years. I love working for the community, and I’m glad for a new change in my job.” said Sgt. Todd Johnson. If you ever need to talk to Sgt. Todd, he will be patrolling the parking lots before and after school. During the school day, he’ll be in his office except for during lunch where he’ll be in the cafeteria. If you have trouble finding him, you can always ask a teacher to call the office, and Sgt. Todd will be called for you. “I’m here to help,” he emphasizes, “If you have any problems or school issues that you would need an officer for, you can talk to me instead of calling the police.”

A few people were asked about their first thoughts when they heard an officer was coming. Mrs. La Follette, a Wilton Jr./Sr. High School Math teacher said, “I was excited as I know it adds a much-needed level of security to the building.” Not everyone in the school was as excited. Some were apprehensive about the idea. Mrs. Pearson, a Wilton Jr./Sr. High School History teacher answered, “My thoughts were that I thought it was a poor choice, and I wanted someone with a counseling background rather than a law enforcement one.”

 Gracie Koele (‘21) also expressed some initial thoughts of doubt saying “My first thoughts were along the lines of what will he even do? If he’s a replacement for Mr. Duytshaever, who’s like a guidance counselor, why hire an officer? At least he’ll be able to protect us against any threats against the school.” These responses expressed feelings some at the school have about whether an officer could give better help than a counselor. 

As a response to these concerns, Sgt. Todd said, “Being a law enforcement officer we are taught in our training to see all sides of a situation including behavior triggers combined with the situation at hand. We are taught to calm the rhetoric and behavior at that moment to ensure a peaceful end to the situation and safety for everyone. Our job as peace officers in the schools is in no way meant to be a replacement for the counselors. In fact, we work together to bring safety at the moment and the counselors follow up with the student. At no time is the officer in the school meant to replace the 2.5 school counselors, but we assist each other to ensure student’s success.”

When asked if she thought punishments would be harsher, Mrs. Pearson said, “No, I think he doesn’t have the counseling background. Also, he is an officer in uniform with a visible gun. I don’t think it’ll be harsher but what used to be in school will become police matters. Instead of suspension and dealt with here, it could become a police matter.”

When asked the same question Gracie shared a different opinion, “I overheard him talking with someone and he honestly seems pretty nice, so I think he’ll be a trustful source for students besides what he may be legally obligated to take action on. I don’t think he should lead to harsher punishments, but it certainly is a possibility.” 

Mrs. La Follette also had her own input on the question, “Mr. Dutschaver was never hired as a counselor, so they were not replacing a counselor when they hired Sgt. Todd. I feel he can be a great resource for kids. Cops are not here to get you in trouble. They are here to help and protect you both in school and outside of school. This country has made cops out to be the bad guy. If you are not doing wrong things, then you do not have to worry.”

As a response to concerns regarding punishments, Sgt Todd said, “The School Resource Officer is set up to help with discipline and safety and as last resort criminally charging someone. The Wilton CSD will still be handling discipline the same as before but instead of contacting the police department for criminal charges there is a School Resource Officer on site.”

Sgt. Todd has shown to be a nice person to students and has also become someone a lot of students trust and can talk to in a short amount of time. However, are we safer with an officer in the school? When asked for any additional comments, Mrs. Pearson brought up safety by saying, “I don’t think it’ll make the school safer. First of all, there’s a civil movement with protests against the policing system.” Mrs. Pearson then pulled up a few articles from the New York Times about school officers, “There have been incidents of officers using too much force with students. It has shown even with an officer, school shootings still happen even with an officer with a gun these things still happen. I feel it just wasn’t the right choice.” Her final comments are, “I feel like instead of spending money on this, a counselor would’ve been more beneficial to the school. Students need that help to figure out why they are behaving the way they are and not just be punished. I think the focus should be on behavioral and mental health.”

Sgt. Todd, responded to these concerns with, “Yes, sadly, there have been instances with officers using too much force with students and adults in schools and society. The majority of officers in this nation do not police with force as a solution to the people they come in contact with. There are ‘bad apples’ in law enforcement, but we should not compare all officers to them. We are all accountable for our own actions. I can speak for those I work with currently and over a 27-year tenure, that excessive force is not our first line of defense. We approach each person and situation from a point of resolution and understanding. Regretfully, school shootings can still happen but hopefully, a school resource officer in the building(s) will deter and save lives in our community. I took an oath to serve and protect all people and I will continue to do just that in the school and as an officer in Wilton, Iowa.”

Although there are many different opinions about having an officer in the school, everyone welcomes Sgt. Todd as a new staff member at the school. If you are ever in need to talk to an officer or just someone at all, Sgt. Todd is down in his office in the guidance center.