Park Rapids Police Officer Joe Rittgers started his new job as school resource officer (SRO) Tuesday morning at Century School.

As elementary and middle school students started to arrive for the first day of school, Rittgers stood near the entrance, greeting a child here, exchanging low-fives there.

“I’m very excited to be in this position,” Rittgers said. “It’s going to be a good year.”

“I think everybody’s excited about the position, the school and ourselves,” said Police Chief Jeff Appel. “It’s a great benefit to the school and the police department. It was a goal of ours for a while, and it’s a good day to see it happen today.”

Superintendent Lance Bagstad remarked, “We are very fortunate to have partners in the city, working together to have an SRO program. We’re looking forward to having Officer Rittgers be part of our staff, promoting positive relations with students and families.”

“Joey Ritgers is a great addition to our school staff,” Area High School Principal Jeff Johnson agreed. “Having an SRO not only helps to educate our students and parents but brings a calm, safe feeling in the school.”

“I look forward to him building relationships and providing education for students and staff,” said Century Middle School Principal Shawn Andress.