Hastings Middle School, first responders and law enforcement send off school resource officer

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 9:11 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Hastings Middle School students, staff and faculty held a surprise farewell for their school resource officer Friday who was being sent on military deployment. In addition to those at the middle school, Hastings Fire and Rescue and Hastings Police Department came together to parade their vehicles around the school.

Brad Cunningham had been working as a police officer HMS since 2017, but it was Friday afternoon when he realized how many lives he had touched.

“It really makes me know that I’m wanted here as the school resource officer and that I’ve been accepted into the family here,” Cunningham said. “I appreciate all of the support, I mean, it’s overwhelming how much support there is for me in this endeavor in this next adventure in my life.”

Cunningham’s supporters cheered him on, held American flags and handmade signs both in and around the sides of the street lining the front of HMS.

He said he was told by his crewmates at the police department there was a suspicious subject wearing a cape and a big hat outside of the middle school in their attempts to get him to come outside and see the surprise that was waiting for him. Cunningham noted, he knew something was going on, especially when he saw all of the blinds where drawn shut that he would typically look out in the supposed threat situation.

Although Cunningham wasn’t exactly fooled by the tactics, he was left in tears after seeing how much he meant to everyone.

“Definitely going to miss the interactions with the kids,” he said. “These kids definitely have a spot in my heart. I definitely feel for them and I just hope that they safe and are taken care of while I’m gone.”

As Cunningham paced along the pathway of his supporters, he was greeted by the HMS band and choir, as well as many hugs and best wishes for his deployment. He added, there was more behind being a school resource officer than people may have thought.

“It’s not all about the officer being in the school writing tickets and getting the kids in trouble. It’s about that mentorship and bridging the gap between the juveniles of Hastings and the police department and just building that good relationship with them,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham started working for the Hastings Police Department in 2014, but didn’t start as the middle SRO until four years ago. He had been a member of the military since 2008 and had been previously deployed to Afghanistan and Cuba. For the next year, Cunningham was going to be deployed in Kuwait. He said he will miss working at HMS and spending time with his wife and son.

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