By NODOKA HONDA
Although most Irvine residents would not turn their heads at the sight of a police officer, the students of UHS have amiable relations with one of their own: the school resource officer (SRO), Officer Melissa Porter. Porter originally worked in Los Alamitos for four years before transferring to the Irvine Police Department (IPD) and becoming UHS’ SRO. She typically works four days a week at UHS and also works Rancho MS and Vista Verde.
As a SRO, her major responsibilities are keeping the school safe and providing guidance to students. “I try to be a mentor” Porter said. “I’m here to try to get kids to do the right thing and to help [them] out when needed.” One of the most common problems that she deals with is theft. Thefts occur on UHS campus almost daily, and it is her job to find the person at fault and make an arrest if necessary. She also deals with family problems and misdemeanors on social media. “Sometimes I deal with drama, and I try to stop it before it becomes a fight and facilitate mediation to try and fix it,” she said.
Officer Porter is a direct link to the IPD. She not only handles safety issues but can also connect students interested in law enforcement through IPD Explorers. Explorers is a volunteer program that allows teenagers to investigate and explore careers in law enforcement. UHS’s principal, Dr. Kevin Astor (Admin.), believes that having an officer on campus increases school safety and positively impacts the community. “She’s a resource to our students, families, and staff, and when students [or parents] have questions about legal things, she can help them. We’ve had issues of theft, and other situation where her assistance has been significant in resolving the issue,” Astor stated.
Besides being a member of the IPD, Porter is also a member of the University High School community. She assures all UHS students that her “door is always open and I [she] would love for people to come and talk to me.”