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Building rapport and trust

By Celeste McNeil; photos courtesy of DCSO

Photo of Deputy Eric Rhymer of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

Deputy Eric Rhymer of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, takes pride in building relationships of trust and respect with students at American Academy. He strives to educate and simply help students in a myriad of ways, including carpool and teaching classes to the older students.

Eric Rhymer has been a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) deputy for the last two decades. He’s held the school resource officer (SRO) position at American Academy (AA) since 2019.

Rhymer started as a civilian detention specialist before DCSO sponsored him at the police academy. After his commission as deputy, Rhymer spent a few years working court security, escorting inmates to and from the detention center cells to the courtroom. Then Rhymer spent 10 years on patrol, some of that in the City of Castle Pines.

A Colorado native, Rhymer was born and raised in Longmont. Growing up, he felt like a military police (MP) position in the U.S. Navy was where he would eventually end up. After high school, Rhymer joined the Navy, working on flight and navigation systems for F-18 Hornets. Through some mentoring, Rhymer realized that being an MP was not what he wanted to do. He left the Navy and used the GI Bill to study aviation at Metro State University, and he worked as an aviation electrician on medical helicopters at Centennial Airport.

Photo of Deputy Rhymer is in his third year as School Resource Officer

Deputy Rhymer is in his third year as School Resource Officer at American Academy.

After his time in the aviation field, Rhymer became more interested in civilian law enforcement. Always a fan of outdoor activities and sports, he filled in for an open position on a DCSO softball team one day, and the conversations that happened that day led Rhymer to seriously consider making a career change. Twenty years later, Rhymer has never been happier professionally.

An SRO’s general job description includes keeping kids out of trouble. Continual positive interactions between officers and students go a long way to developing trust between students and the officers who are assigned to protect and help teach them at school. Typically, SRO assignments last at least one year and are often lengthened to help develop positive relationships with school staff and students.

While the nitty gritty of an SRO’s daily tasks and how they function on the school campuses varies by school, education and mentoring are typical responsibilities. Rhymer enjoys his unique opportunities at AA. He teaches many programs to some of the older students, including an interactive investigation class, akin to “Sherlock Holmes” to the fifth-grade students. The Y.E.S.S. program is taught to AA middle school students, grades six through eight. It focuses on all aspects of student safety, including teen relationships, digital safety and substance abuse. Rhymer also teaches a case law class about schools and students rights at school to help prepare eighth graders for high school.

Rhymer is passionate about being present at AA. He is visible and helpful during morning and afternoon student drop-off and pickup. He has a self-proclaimed lofty goal of learning each AA student’s name and face. So far, he’s mastered about a quarter of the roughly 800 students on campus this year. Additionally, he loves to teach kids early that “law enforcement [personnel] are good people. They are just like anyone else; they want to help.” It’s the rapport building and education that keep Rhymer engaged, and the people and positive environment that keep him coming back.



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