Franklin West Supervisory Union is pleased to announce that Deputy Sheriff Andre LaBier has been selected to serve as the first School Resource Officer (SRO) at Bellows Free Academy in Fairfax, VT. The position is contracted through the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department with funding by a federal grant program.
Deputy LaBier comes to BFA Fairfax following a long career of distinguished service at all levels of law enforcement. He began as a parole officer in the 1980s in New York before entering the US Marshals Service. He served as Chief Inspector responsible for management of various high-profile units and operations in New York and prior to that led the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force in Washington DC. Upon his retirement as a US Marshal, LaBier served as a Police Consultant with Department of Justice in Bosnia and a Police Instructor in Afghanistan. Deputy LaBier is a Franklin County resident and has a BA in Sociology and completed his post-graduate work in Psychology. He’s served as an officer for the past four years with the Lamoille and Stowe police departments and was hired by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department in May.
The Fairfax School Board first began exploring the addition of a School Resource Officer in 2014, but it took a few more years to secure funding and find the right person for the job. In his new role as the SRO at BFA Fairfax, Deputy LaBier’s work will primarily focus on developing positive relationships with students and staff, reviewing school safety plans, overseeing implementation of new enhanced lockdown procedures, and sharing his expertise with students and staff in the classroom.
Until recently, BFA Fairfax was the only secondary school in Franklin and Chittenden counties without a dedicated officer onsite. Middle/High School Principal John Tague explained that a School Resource Officer “serves as a first responder in a crisis situation, but also provides a positive role model for students.” He added, “as we are changing and updating our security procedures, it has been invaluable to have immediate access to a law enforcement professional and give extra attention to our drills and procedures. Having high-level expertise in the building consulting with us about these things has been tremendous. Deputy LaBier brings us a wealth of experience building relationships and designing and implementing programs.”
Tom Walsh, Elementary Principal had this to say about Deputy LaBier: “Having Andre on our campus provides an enhanced sense of safety and security for our school. He has already made great connections with students and staff and our community. I see him at the busses in the morning and interacting with students in the cafeteria. He has been a positive addition to our school and community. His broad experiences also bring a wider perspective of the world for our students.”
“I’m floored by the positive energy of the school staff. It’s contagious,” said Deputy LaBier. “We have dynamic leaders in this school who do an incredible amount of work beyond the school day.” Middle/High School Principal John Tague noted that Deputy LaBier has been an active participant in the community at soccer games and other school events during the evenings, not just while students are in class. LaBier responded by saying this role doesn’t stop at the end of the school day. He is pleased to be able to give back through forming positive relationships with students. His background in mental health and crisis response has taught him how important talking and listening is, especially with middle and high school students. “Little things can make such a difference,” he said.
Deputy LaBier added that he has been overwhelmed by the positive response to his presence in the school when he talks with parents and members of the community members. He is taking it one day at a time and sees that it’s what he does today that has meaning. He looks forward to coming to school each day.
Welcome, Deputy LaBier!