It was the last week of school for the Puyallup School District, and Pierce County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Jeff Papen was inside Glacier View Junior High on June 21 when a call came over the air.
A man with a rifle was standing on a ridge right outside Emerald Ridge High School, across the street from Glacier View. A shot was reported fired.
At the time, the schools were bustling with students, staff, firemen and chaplains.
“We were getting ready to do a fundraiser (to benefit) the Tacoma-Pierce County Chaplaincy fund,” Papen recalled. “Here’s a lot of activity going on at these two schools.”
For Papen, a school resource officer (SRO) for the Puyallup School District, executing a lockdown was instantly on his mind.
“These rounds can go over a mile or two. Now I need to secure the children, the firefighters, the chaplains and the staff,” Papen said.
Papen said everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do that day, which ended with the suspect being taken into custody.
That’s where all the training and practice comes into play. To see it executed so well… it makes you step back and say all that work is worth it.
Jeff Papen, Puyallup School District resource officer
“That’s where all the training and practice comes into play,” he said. “To see it executed so well … it makes you step back and say all that work is worth it.”
After a decade of serving as an SRO for the district, Papen is no stranger to lockdowns. In fact, he was involved in helping develop the district’s preparedness plans and school lockdowns.
That was one of the reasons why the district nominated him for the Washington State Resource Officer of the Year. He was chosen as this year’s recipient by the Washington State School Safety Organization.
“He was instrumental in helping the school district build a school emergency plan, especially in the area of lockdown training, over the years,” said Char Krause, director of student services and school safety. “A lot of what he has done has been shared county-wide.”
From a district perspective, he was instrumental in helping the school district build a school emergency plan, especially in the area of lockdown training, over the years. A lot of what he has done has been shared county-wide.
Char Krause, director of student services and school safety for the Puyallup School District
Papen began his work in law enforcement in 1992 as a corrections officer before becoming a deputy. In 2007, he became an SRO with the Puyallup School District. He lives in Puyallup with his wife and two sons.
“When I started this job, my sons were in elementary school,” Papen said. “I had so much incentive to work really hard because the work I did, they would benefit directly from.”
Puyallup School District has three SROs who work in its schools. Papen worked at Emerald Ridge High, Glacier View, Edgemont, Stahl junior high schools, and Northwood, Mt View, Brouillet, Pope, Hunt and Edgerton elementary schools.
During the school year, he’s often traveling between them — but mostly to Emerald Ridge and the junior highs.
“It can be very high-stress job but it’s extremely rewarding,” Papen said. “The reward really comes with the people you’re working with.”
It can be very high-stress job but it’s extremely rewarding. The reward really comes with the people you’re working with.
Jeff Papen, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputy
That includes the staff and the students, he said.
“Some of the relationships I develop are because I’ve arrested this kid before … or, they come to you because they’ve been a victim of a horrible crime and they’ve chosen you to confide in,” Papen said. “There’s so many different types of relationships and reasons for them. It just reminds me that each person is equally valued. You just never know what someone else’s life is like.”
In June, the district recognized Papen and his fellow SRO, Deputy Gregory Marty, for ten years of service with the district.
“One of the things that Deputy Papen is known for is his commitment to the staff and students at the Puyallup School District,” Krause said. “He provided guidance to administrators and was able to use his role to educate students.”