by: BARBARA SHERMAN - NOW ON DUTY - Sherwood School District school resource officer Kris Asla chats with Brian Bailey, Sherwood High School associate principal, in the SHS Commons during lunchtime.When Sherwood High School students returned to classes the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, there was a new presence on campus – Sherwood police office Kris Asla, who is the new Sherwood School District school resource officer.

“I’ve sure jumped into the mix,” he said March 6. “It’s been fun, and there have been lots of new things to learn.”

Asla was keen to get the job because he has spent most of his career working with students of all ages, so although he is fairly new to law enforcement, he got his dream job of being a school resource officer at only 31 years of age.

Born and raised in Beaverton and Hillsboro, Asla said, “Since I graduated from high school, I was on a path toward education. I wanted to be a history and PE teacher.”

Asla attended Portland Community College for a year before switching to Eastern Oregon University where he had a partial scholarship.

“My goal was to become a PE teacher in three years,” he said. “But everyone advised me to take core classes, and I got involved in the English Department. I realized that with a little extra effort, I could get a double major.”

Asla earned a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and a bachelor of science degree in physical education with honors in both.

“I did a lot of student teaching in physical education with a focus on special ed in physical education,” he said. “I mainly worked with the students in special ed on alternative physical activity options and swimming, and all this led to other options for me.”

As a college graduate looking for a job, Asla was hired as an admissions counselor at EOU, where he worked for two years.

“I was hoping to get my master’s degree in teaching and became a recruiter,” he said. “It was the best of both worlds. I met with students from tons of different backgrounds and traveled to visit schools in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Hawaii for six months out of the year.

“I built relationships with students and worked to get them into college anywhere, not just at EOU. I did scholarship presentations and workshops and taught students how to strategize.”

The next stop on Asla’s career path was Pacific University in Forest Grove, where he was hired as assistant director of admissions and worked for three years.

“I got to make the decisions on who would be admitted,” Asla said.

Also during this time, he had become interested in police work, did a few ride-a-longs with officers and decided to become a reserve officer.

“I applied to several different agencies and got on with Forest Grove,” Asla said. “I attended the reserve academy for 1 ½ days a week for six months. They took us through a modified police academy, and after I graduated, I volunteered my time as a reserve officer and trained with other officers.”

And after years spent working in education, Asla realized that his true passion was police work.

By then he was 29 and decided to change careers, researching various police agencies.

“I applied to several but wanted a smaller community where I could really connect with people,” Asla said.

The Sherwood Police Department accepted his application, and Asla recalled being asked during his job interview, “What is your goal in five years?”

His answer? To become a school resource officer.

“Two years ago, I said that eventually I would like to do that, and now, after almost 10 years of college and experience working with youth, everything melded together perfectly with that I wanted to do,” Asla said.

“When this position was announced, I jumped on it. But when I was selected, I was surprised. I knew I was one of the more junior members of the police department, but I wanted to further myself and get extra experience. This is why I became a police officer – to get involved with juveniles and youth and utilize my skills.”

Right from the get-go, Asla jumped into the position with both feet, meeting as many people as possible and being in as many places as possible.

Even though he is based at SHS and spends a majority of his time there, he actually is responsible for all the schools in the Sherwood School District as well as being a presence where kids hang out, including local parks and Old Town.

“Right away, I wanted to meet as many kids as possible,” Asla said. “I visited all the elementary and middle schools, and I go back and hang out, shoot hoops and kick soccer balls with the kids. I want to be available and approachable, so if kids need to talk to someone, they will think of me.

“I’ve been involved with as many students as I can – especially those at higher risk – and I’m a presence here at the high school at lunch, in the parking lot and nearby park. My main focus is to be places where youth congregate around town and hang out after school. I want to be on a level with the kids where they can approach me.”

Asla also sees part of his job as being available to the homeowners around SHS who may have concerns about student behavior.

“I’m also the community resource officer around the schools, so residents can have someone to address their concerns,” he said. “Traffic patrol around schools also is something we need to do to keep school zones safe. I move around a lot. In one day, I may visit two elementary schools at recess time and check in on a middle school. I do lunch in the SHS Commons, although rarely do I actually eat lunch. I keep a few power bars at my desk.”

First and foremost, Asla’s job is to keep schools safe, but it also includes crisis intervention, drug and alcohol prevention, criminal investigation and many other areas of police work.

Asla is married and has an infant son.

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