Mundelein Police Officer Sarah Ruffolo is the new School Resource Officer (SRO) at MHS this year. As the first female SRO in the school’s history, Officer Ruffolo was chosen from a field of other officers running for the position– a four-year specialty position. She replaced Officer Brian Kisselburg, who left MHS after three years because he was promoted to sergeant at the Mundelein Police Department.
“During the interview process, Officer Ruffolo focused a lot of her answers on the students,” said Sam Smigielski, dean. “She presented many ideas and new initiatives, combining her previous job and her law enforcement experience, to implement here at MHS. You could tell that the students and their safety was Officer Ruffolo’s main concern.”
Ruffolo has been an officer with the Mundelein Police Department for over three years, and before that, Officer Ruffolo was a job coach for a special education department in a high school.
“I was there for two and a half years. My duties included working one on one with students to teach job skills, interviewing skills, resume writing, college applications and working with employers throughout the community to offer employment opportunities to my students,” said Ruffolo.
Officer Ruffolo said she knew what to expect going into this job based off of talks with other SROs and her work experience in education.
“As an SRO, there are three things you have to balance: law enforcement aspects, informal counseling and educating students and staff,” said Officer Ruffolo. “I can come in and have a full day of just doing reports, or I can have a full day of investigations. My days are never the same,” she said. “Most of my time here is spent mentoring, counseling and teaching students, staff and parents. In addition to that are all of my investigations.”
Not only is Officer Ruffolo responsible for the safety of the school, but she also handles cases ranging from abuse and harassment to theft.
“I usually get to the school around 7:20 a.m.,” she said. “I check my email and follow up with any reports that involved students at the school. I also work closely with the deans to solve problems and work with the students that come into my office.”
Officer Ruffolo is not just here during the school day; she attends many of the major out of school activities, such as the football games and the school dances.
One moment that sticks out during her brief time here was at one of the football games when a young woman, who she had previously dealt with, had thanked her for getting her back on the right track.
“This is just one of the many instances when I feel that I am making a difference,” said Officer Ruffolo.
But students don’t have to be in trouble to interact with Officer Ruffolo.
“I always go to Officer Ruffolo when I need a question answered or if I’ve been contemplating certain things,” said Jenny Feldmann, senior. “People ask me why I’m always in her office, and I just say ‘cause she’s someone who I can really talk to and seems like she actually cares about what I’m saying and will come back with advice.”
Officer Ruffolo said she wants to ensure that staff and students know her door is always open.
“If you have questions about something that happened, curious about law enforcement, questions about driver’s licenses or curfew, or any other multitude of concerns, stop in my office,” said Officer Ruffolo. “I am another resource at MHS for students and staff. Stop by and introduce yourself.”