Hometown Hero: Officer Don Koerner - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Hometown Hero: Officer Don Koerner

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GARLAND, Texas -

Clarice Tinsley's Hometown Hero is a Garland police officer who teaches kids to think first and make good decisions.

In 1988, Officer Don Koerner thought that getting kids involved in basketball games with a police officer would be a win-win for the community. Kids started talking to him and fun was shared. That led to the Garland Police Youth Program. It's still going on in 35 elementary schools in Garland with nine police officers, offering homework help and academic rewards.

The GPYP led to the School Resource Officer program which Officer Koerner started in 1989 with the support of the Garland Independent School District and the Garland Police Department.  The SRO has 31 armed police officers from Garland, Rowlett and Sasche in schools on 71 campuses. The officers teach students about the law and life lessons, reinforcing character, self-esteem, a drug free life and good decision-making skills.

The students said the police officers are their friends and are a part of their lives. The officers welcome the opportunity to give back. Officer Koerner has two grown children and he said he feels great knowing the two programs he started have made a difference in the lives of young North Texans.

Rachel Ward is a teacher at Shorehaven Elementary School. When she was an elementary school student Officer Koerner was in her school saying "Are y'all doing your homework? Are you doing what you're supposed to be doing?" She says he's still saying that to kids today.

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