School Resource Officer Katie Appel Recognized
Officer Mitchell the Comfort Dog and Norfolk School Resource Officer Katie Appel celebrate National SRO Appreciation Day on Feb. 15. (Photos courtesy of Norfolk Police Department.)
On Wednesday, Feb. 15, schools and police departments took the time to reflect on the critical role school resource officers play in supporting students and staff while fostering a safe learning environment during National School Resource Officer (SRO) Appreciation Day.
In observation of National SRO Appreciation Day, the Norfolk Police Department recognized and thanked Norfolk School Resource Officer Katie Appel for her dedication to the role of SRO and to the students of the Norfolk Public Schools.
Officer Appel has been working in law enforcement for 12 years. She has been with the Norfolk Police Department since 2020 and has served as the department’s SRO since 2022. In this role, she’s been dedicated to bridging the gap between the police department and the education system as SROs can collaboratively enhance school safety while providing a multi-faceted social-emotional support system for students of all ages.
“Officer Appel has been a wonderful addition to not only our department but to our schools as well,” Chief Timothy Heinz said. “The students look forward to seeing her as she not only champions students, but she creates a safe space for those who may be struggling. We are so thankful for her and her service.”
During her time in Norfolk, SRO Appel has worked as a liaison for the jail diversion program, where she assisted the social work clinician in supporting residents of Norfolk and the surrounding communities. Appel is also a D.A.R.E. Officer, the advisor of the Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) club and a child safety car seat technician. One of her favorite parts of her job is bringing Mitch, the community resource dog, into classrooms.
On Friday, Feb. 10, Officer Appel and Mitch visited fifth and sixth-grade classrooms at Freeman-Kennedy School to discuss “Fish in a Tree” by Lynda Mullaly. The book speaks to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in and struggled with literacy. The book embodies a cause close to Appel’s heart as she has dyslexia and wants students to see they can overcome any challenges they may face.
“Helping students navigate through life’s adversities and challenges at all levels as well as cheering them on through their biggest accomplishments is one of the best parts of my job,” Appel said. “I’m able to see their compassion and it is truly one of the best feelings to watch them light up when Mitch walks through the door.”
Officer Appel also works in-depth with the students at King-Phillip Middle School in Norfolk.