Brad Tavener said he enjoys his new job as the school resource officer for the Dunklin R-5 School District, which has its own one-man police force.
“It’s been absolutely incredible getting to know the staff of the different schools and familiarizing myself with the district,” said Tavener, 34, of Festus.
Dunklin R-5 is one of only two school districts in the state with its own police department. The other is the Blue Springs School District south of Kansas City.
Tavener, originally from Amsterdam on the west side of Missouri, started the job at Dunklin on Nov. 18, replacing Mark Grobe, who left last summer to join the Herculaneum Police Department, district spokesman Matt Lichtenstein said.
Tavener is being paid a $40,700 annual salary as the Dunklin School District’s only police officer.
When Grobe left the job, he was making $44,650 a year.
The Dunklin R-5 Board of Education voted unanimously at its November meeting to hire Tavener.
Lichtenstein said Dunklin R-5 administrators and board members felt Tavener had a lot to bring to the job.
“He comes with a wealth of experience dealing with juveniles,” Lichtenstein said. “He’s great at this job. Students respond to him. He’s a low-key, very warm individual.”
Tavener has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan., and graduated from the Law Enforcement Academy of Missouri Southern State University in Joplin.
He joined Dunklin R-5 after working two years as a deputy juvenile officer with the Jefferson County Juvenile Department. Prior to that, he worked as a deputy juvenile officer with the Greene County Juvenile Office in the southwest part of Missouri.
Tavener said he was familiar with Dunklin R-5 before taking the job at the district.
“I worked with people on the faculty and staff in Dunklin R-5 while I was with the Jefferson County Juvenile Department,” he said. “I appreciated the amount of work and respect and the amount of cooperation we had in working with the Juvenile Department.”
Tavener and his girlfriend, Amanda Newman, have a 2-year-old daughter.
“I ended up on this side of the state because we wanted to live closer to my girlfriend’s parents. They live in Arnold,” he said.