The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

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The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

Owl Post

The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

Owl Post

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Public Safety Academy Honors Fallen Officers with Projects

Flags+sit+outside+of+the+Public+Safety+Academy+classroom+in+honor+of+fallen+law+enforcement+members+in+2023.
Addison Smith
Flags sit outside of the Public Safety Academy classroom in honor of fallen law enforcement members in 2023.

The Public Safety Academy classes are currently doing service projects around fallen officers in 2023. Each class chose their activity, ranging from putting flags outside the school, a bake sale, making banners and selling t-shirts, all supervised by Law Enforcement instructor Ried Carlson.

Carlson spent one year with the St. Louis County Police Department, three years with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, and is currently in his 11th year with the Olathe Police Department. 

“Last year I decided every time we’d have a line of duty death, any death in law enforcement nationally that is considered line of duty, we talk about it and I’ll pull up their picture and how they passed away and what happened,” Carlson said. “I think that it’s important for anyone in public safety, especially law enforcement, but fire safety too, to understand that the job is dangerous and these things happen all the time, and it’s a really nice way to honor and recognize the sacrifice that an officer gave, doesn’t matter where else in the country.”

After covering line of duty deaths in the classroom, Carlson had the idea to let students do projects to honor them. 

“Last year, I decided every hour would do a project that’s just something easy for them to do that recognizes those,” Carlon said. “Fifth hour, they are my juniors, they wanted to do something that represented each line of duty death and then we ended up finding a whole bunch of small American flags and their idea was to put them in the ground right outside of Public Safety, each flag is for a line of duty death. Last year was 149, year before that was 243. There are 149 flags out there right now.”

Second hour will be doing a sale in the lunchroom with baked goods and lemonade, proceeds will go to a charity.

“We’re going to donate all those proceeds to a foundation called The Cops Foundation,” Carlson said. “It concerns police survivors and funds strictly for family members of officers who have died in the line of duty. They provide a lot of financial support for families that might need it after they lose an officer who might be their only or primary income for their families.”

The seventh hour seniors for their capstone project will be doing something similar, selling t-shirts in the lunchroom that they design themselves with proceeds also going to the Cops Foundation, while fourth and fifth hours are creating visual displays.

“Third hour is constructing a binder, and they’re just gonna have pictures of each line of duty death and their names, badge numbers, when their end of watch was and some of the specifics of what caused their death,” Carlson said. “We’re going to put that in the library for anybody to peruse through and look at their photos so it’s a nice way for the whole school to kinda look at some of the men and women that gave their lives serving their communities.Fourth hour is working on a banner right now that we’re gonna be able to do every year that we hang on the law enforcement side [of the classroom] that’s gonna be line of duty deaths for each year and it’s gonna be a small banner with a star for each line of duty death, and that way incoming classes even when I’m not here anymore can kinda see as the years have gone by the stars that will be on the wall and I think that’s actually really touching.” 

The projects teach students the importance of recognizing fallen officers, but also the seriousness of the job. 

“Beyond reminding them that the job is dangerous, it’s [the projects are] fun,” Carlson said. “It’s something I’ve dedicated 15 plus years to and it’s really rewarding but it’s dangerous. There’s a lot of men and women every year who, and that’s part of the job, lose their lives defending their community or serving in some way and I think it’s a really good way to keep them grounded. This job is so much fun, we laugh and we joke and have a good time but it’s a good way to keep them grounded and understand that this is a very serious business, and if you’re not serious about this line of work then it might not be the job for you. So it’s a good way to keep things in perspective when we talk about the families they leave behind.”

Students are also able to come together to work on the projects and spend time with classmates.

“These are not my ideas, the idea for the project was mine but I let them do it. As long as it’s nothing insane that will take an exorbitant amount of time or resources, this is all completely student led, and all they do is get together and they get together outside of class when they need to to plan certain things, despite any differences they might have with each other they get together and they know that it’s a good goal for them all to come together and do together.”



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About the Contributor
Addison Smith, Online Editor
Addison Smith is a senior and Online Editor for the Owl Post. This is her third year on staff, previously serving as a staff member. Addison is involved in Rho Kappa, Link Crew and Quill & Scroll. Outside of school, Addison enjoys hanging out with friends, making art and watching TV shows, her favorites including, “The Rookie” and “Community.” Addison is looking forward to advancing the print paper, furthering her photography and writing stories about the community. What Addison loves most about journalism is the ability to spread information to the public and the fascinating world journalism provides through writing and photography. 

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