PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Officer Tommy Stoffel has been the School Resource Officer at Lincoln High School for three years.
He said Thursday was the first time he had to break up a fight. KOIN 6 News was at the school and witnessed the physical altercation between students.
Stoffel was showing KOIN 6 News what his job actually entails after a group of students earlier this week called on Portland Public School to remove officers from campuses.
“That’s really unfortunate that had to happen right here, right now,” Stoffel told KOIN 6 News after the fight.
Stoffel used a calm, restrained voice when breaking up the fight. “The first technique we officers use to de-escalate is our voice, telling people to stop,” he told KOIN 6 News..
He said officers are trained to handle large scale situations but that most of his work is positive interactions with students and de-escalating smaller problems. He carries a Taser and a handgun but has only used his handcuffs once or twice per year he’s been at the school.
“Those little fires are constantly being put out that otherwise would become bigger fires,” Stoffel said. “Every now and then we need to step in and intervene and say ‘Hey, I don’t think those are the best decisions you’re making.'”
Lincoln High School Principal Peyton Chapman said Thursday’s fight is exactly why she feels school resource officers are necessary.
“Things do happen occasionally. Fighting is rare, but I feel better actually having Officer Stoffel here,” Chapman said.