Bright and early each school day many students at Holley-Navarre Primary are greeted with high fives and handshakes by a local cop who seems to always be in a great mood.
Although the officer is there to protect the safety of students and others during morning school drop offs, Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office Deputy Matt Robinson goes the extra mile to also ensure everyone gets a warm welcome.
“He loves children, and he loves his job,” said Kathy Robinson, proud mom to the 34-year-old cop, whom she described as a caring, loving guy. “I believe he got his love for children from my dad,” she said, pointing out the two were close.
Sasha Brown, who walks her children Maybree and Aiden to school, said the kids have fun talking to Robinson. “They’re sad when he’s not there,” she said.
“What motivates me is the children,” said Robinson, who has four daughters, ranging in age from three to 15. “I look forward to getting up each morning and doing my school detail. If I can make the kids smile and have a good day then I feel like I succeeded.” After his task at HNPS is complete, Robinson heads north to Milton High School, where he serves as the school resource officer.
Milton High School Principal Timothy Short said Robinson’s attitude in the school hallways help make him a “go to” guy, no matter what the situation. “Deputy Robinson has clearly established himself here on the campus of Milton High. His demeanor and attitude mesh perfectly with both students, parents and staff. He is consistently interacting with students and staff alike. He can be funny and engaging yet serious and stern with the need arises,” Short said
According to Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Sgt. Rich Aloy, the agency had to cut the number of school resource officers during the 2007-2008 school year due to budget constraints. Currently there are resource officers in each of the district’s high schools — in the past there were also officers in elementary and middle schools. “The Deputies that work in our schools have a certain desire to work with the children of Santa Rosa County. It is a job that takes a special person to carry out. Essentially, you are a Deputy who enforces Florida Statues and School administrative policy and procedures. That individual must also possess a key skill of being able to influence not through authority but through mentorship and leading by example,” Aloy said.
Parents like Rachel Broxson say Robinson is perfectly suited to serve as a resource officer. “The kids look up to him, and you can tell he truly cares about them,” she said.
“I love how the children are not afraid of the police and approach me to give me high fives every morning. If I can make a difference in one child’s life then it makes it all worth it. It helps working for a great agency at Santa Rosa County Sheriff Office,” Robinson said.